Patna ATMs Run Out of Cash; Center Downplays Problem

An ATM displays 'out of order' sign in Patna on Tuesday.

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Patna: Like most large cities in the country, Patna's Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) ran out of cash in what is being dubbed as the most severe shortage of cash in the nation's history leaving financial experts scratching their heads trying to figure out what led to this situation.

ATM after ATM, nearly all cash kiosks across the state capital displayed signs announcing 'Out of Cash' or 'Out of Service' as people in need of cash wandered from one bank to another in the hope of getting lucky only to be disappointed by either long lines or machines running out of cash in a matter of minutes.

While large business transactions were not affected by the sudden cash crunch nationwide since most businesses are done online these days, it were the ordinary people and small businesses in need of small cash for daily needs that were caught in the line of fire of this monetary fiasco.

"I have been to more than two dozen ATM kiosks in Patna but have not been able to withdraw cash from any one of them. At some places, people were standing in long lines but many, including myself, had to return empty handed as the machine ran out of cash in a matter of less than half an hour," said Abhay Singh, a small vendor on Jagdeo Path.

An SBI ATM in Patna keeps its shutter down after running out of cash on Tuesday.An SBI ATM in Patna keeps its shutter down after running out of cash on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tried to allay fear of a long-term cash shortage in the nation saying the problem was temporary and the government was working round-the-clock to come up with a resolution quickly.

"Have reviewed the currency situation in the country. Over all there is more than adequate currency in circulation and also available with the banks. The temporary shortage caused by ‘sudden and unusual increase’ in some areas is being tackled quickly," Jaitley tweeted.

Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla, while admitting there was a shortage of cash in ATMs in some parts of the country, said that the problem will be resolved within 2-3 days as the government had over Rs. 1,25,000 crores in cash to deal with any situation.

"There is nothing to worry about and our economy is both safe and strong," he said.

Top bank officials have maintained that the cash crunch was the result of a sudden and dramatic surge in cash withdrawal in the past three months coupled by an anemic rate of deposit in many states including Bihar.

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