Bandh takes toll as ATMs run dry

A bank ATM displays the "No Cash" board near Patliputra police station on Tuesday. Picture by Manoj Kumar

Patna: Residents experienced the side effects of Monday's Bharat bandh on Tuesday when ATMs of various public and private sector banks were bandh too.

Top bankers confirmed cash could not be loaded in many ATMs because of the bandh, while at several places they were shut down as a precautionary measure against bandh violence. They said the situation would improve in 24 hours.

A majority of ATMs in Patna were without cash. Some of them displayed boards saying there was no cash, while others were down with faults.

People in need of cash roamed around Patna in search of functioning ATMs. They found a few, but the queues were so long they could not muster courage to join them.

"I visited at least a dozen ATMs of different banks, right from Patliputra Colony to Boring Road and beyond, as I had to pay my maid. All of them were dry. Finally, there was one ATM near Budhha Colony, but at least 30 persons were queuing up outside, so I came back," said Rohit Singh, a corporate professional.

It was the same in other areas of Patna and also in different parts of the state.

A senior official of the State Bank of India (SBI), which has the largest ATM network with around 2,200 of them in Bihar, said this happened because Monday's bandh was preceded by a weekend during which banks were closed.

"We managed to fill cash into ATMs with our branches, but the "brown-level' ATMs, in which outside cash management agencies fill currency on our behalf, were closed as a safety measure. Cash-carrying vehicles could be looted and ATMs could be damaged by rowdy elements during bandh," the official said on condition of anonymity.

An official from the Punjab National Bank (PNB) stressed that there could be several reasons for non-working of ATMs, including technical snags, but admitted that a majority of them went dry as cash could not be filled in them on Monday because of the bandh.

The bankers added that cash was being filled in all ATMs on Tuesday and the situation would become normal by Tuesday evening or latest by Wednesday afternoon.


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