| People wait outside an ATM in Guwahati on Monday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, Oct. 3: There was a run on bank ATMs across the state on Saptami today.
Customers had a harrowing time as they grappled with frequent link failures and cashless ATMs while bankers blamed the Puja rush and huge withdrawals for the problems.
Long queues were seen in front of ATMs here and in other major towns of the state since morning and many were seen running from one ATM counter to another for cash.
Nandita Sengupta of Maligaon was worried after having visited the ATM counters of three major banks. “I am in dire need of cash as I have to do some shopping but I was surprised to see the ATMs of Axis Bank, IDBI Bank and the United Bank of India here closed. Finally, I found the UCO Bank ATM open but after I had waited for about half-an-hour, it suddenly went out of order. It has been really a harrowing morning,” the 26-year-old teacher said.
Dipak Roy, a trader from Barpeta, about 70km from here, said he had made the rounds of three SBI ATMs at Bharalumukh, Adabari and Maligaon here before he could withdraw cash. “I came out of my rented house at Bharalumukh early as I had to do some shopping before I caught the 4pm train back to Barpeta. But I had to waste about an hour to withdraw cash as there were long queues at the ATMs and frequent link failures,” he added.
A number of ATMs were shut in the city as last-minute Puja shoppers and those caught in emergency situations struggled to manage cash.
The situation was similar in other major towns of the state as well, be it Barpeta, Dhubri, Bongaigaon or Jorhat.
Of the eight SBI ATMs in Dhubri, people faced problems in four as the automated teller machines ran out of cash and there were frequent link failures. Similar problems were witnessed at UCO Bank, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank ATMs. Long queues were seen in front of the 11 ATMs in Dhubri.
SBI channel manager (ATM), B.C. Malakar, blamed the Puja rush and huge withdrawals for the problems in the ATMs in Guwahati.
“Normally, a customer can withdraw Rs 40,000-50,000 at a time but in Guwahati we have seen people coming with ATM cards of four-five different banks and withdrawing cash in lakhs. Hence ATMs are going cashless very often. But we are taking steps to reload the machines as fast as we can. We have also received complaints of link failures, which is again because of the Puja rush,” he said.
“Though banks will remain closed for Pujas from tomorrow, our staff in ATM branches will look after the customers,” he added.
The SBI has 160 ATM counters in Guwahati and is planning to open 40 more by the end of this year, Malakar said.