ATMs in some states still display out-of-cash board

UP, Bihar, AP, Maha and K’taka face crunch, Govt says situation improving.

New Delhi : Automated teller machines (ATMs) in some parts of the country continued to remain out of cash on Wednesday as the government scrambled to rush currency to meet an “unusual spurt in demand” ahead of looming polls.

ATMs in cities of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and poll-bound Karnataka were either not operating or showed no cash signs, reminiscent of post demonetisation scene. Some ATMs in the national capital too were reported to be out of service. The government on its part claimed that the situation was fast improving with over 80 per cent of 2.2 lakh ATMs operating normally on Wednesday as against 60 per cent on Tuesday.

Officials attributed the “unusual spurt in demand” for payments made for crop procurement and looming elections. Banks, they said, are replenishing cash at ATMs. Also, all the four printing presses are working round-the-clock to print smaller currency notes.

Senior finance ministry officials held video conferences with public sector banks during which they have been asked to replenish ATMs with Rs 500 notes. The PSBs have been asked to ensure that above 80 per cent of ATMs start dispensing cash within a day and step up cash supply in all branches.

State Bank of India said cash availability at its ATMs has increased in the past 24 hours. As many as 92 per cent of its ATMs were working on Wednesday as against around 85 per cent on Tuesday.

The situation is likely to be back to normal before weekend. Other lenders, including Canara Bank, Bank of India and Axis Bank claimed that cash shortage at ATMs was limited to select pockets.

A PNB spokesperson said overall the bank has not faced any cash shortage in its ATMs across the country and continue to function as usual.

“Out of 9,679 ATMs, there is a 90 per cent availability of ATMs which is normal. The bank would like to reassure its customers that all possible measures are being undertaken to ensure that its ATMs remain functional and are refilled regularly.”

The shortage has been blamed on inadequate availability of Rs 2,000 notes, and the fact that ATM cassettes have not been configured to dispense smaller Rs 200 currency notes.

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