New Delhi: Bank branches in many parts of the country saw shorter queues even as cash woes continued across the country, especially in the hinterland. In many metros, the queues outside the branches are easing because of cash shortage and the fact that 50 per cent of ATMs have been recalibrated to dispense high-denomination new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes. According to official sources, there are issues of branches running out of cash, but this is because of logistics and not because less cash is available at currency chests.
"There is sufficient cash available, but faster replenishment is not taking place all across because of limited number of cash carrying vehicles," official sources added. There are reports that banks in major metros are getting one-sixth of the cash requirement, leading to chaos at branches. According to a senior bank official, branches of various banks in Mumbai and Delhi are getting much less cash then their requirements, which is why all the customers are not serviced. People in need of cash are left frustrated and anguished because they are unable to withdraw their own money from branches. Meanwhile, the government tonight extended till December 15 the facility of using old Rs 500 notes in public utilities and included more services like mobile recharge but stopped the over-the-counter exchange of defunct currencies and use of Rs 1,000 notes. From now on, payment of fees up to Rs 2,000 per student has been allowed in schools and colleges run by central and states governments, municipalities and local bodies. Payment towards pre-paid mobile top-up to a limit of Rs 500 per recharge has also been allowed while purchase from consumer cooperative stores will be limited to Rs 5,000 at a time, an official release said. Current and arrear dues payments will be limited to only water and electricity, a facility that will continue to be available only for individuals and households. However, the release said payments for the transactions under all the exempted categories will now be accepted only through old Rs 500 notes. There has been large-scale criticism of the government in the wake of severe hardships faced by a cross-section of people following demonetisation of high-denomination currency.