36 hours after the government demonetized the Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, lakhs of anxious citizens made a beeline outside banks and post offices on Thursday morning to exchange their now defunct currency.
A common sight across Mumbai, and other major cities, was people queuing up long before the bank and post offices opened their doors. Most armed with their older notes and identification documents.
Many, who were aware about the process, had filled the special requisition slips in advance and attached the identity papers. Others had to make last minute arrangements and bear the brunt of additional queuing before exchanging their currency.
Policemen were also stationed outside prominent bank branches across the city for crowd control and maintaining law & order situation.
Most private and public sector bank branches were cramped with customers, making the air conditioners redundant and causing suffocation and breathlessness. To counter it, some banks resorted to limiting the number of customers to five or ten at a time.
Similar crowds were witnessed at ATMs which also opened up first time since Tuesday night as people rushed to withdraw the permitted amounts for their daily routine expenses.
Television reports even quoted customers complaining that some branches and ATMs had already exhausted their cash stocks within the first couple of hours after they opened for the day.
Many who managed to withdraw the brand new Rs 500 or Rs 2,000 notes clicked selfies and uploaded them on various social media outlets.
However, the absence of lower denomination notes in the market created further problems as kirana shops, malls, multiplexes, taxi/auto drivers, paan walas etc refused to offer change in exchange of the new notes.
Businesses across the spectrum had come to a standstill on Wednesday in the near total absence of customers with valid currency. The ones where majority of transactions are done via credit or debit cards were the least affected.
Tolls also witnessed long queues yesterday. However, the situation was brought under control by evening after both the Maharashtra and central governments announced a waiver of toll taxes on all highways till November 11 midnight.
Meanwhile, all banks have been directed to work for 12 hours on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to cater to the panicked and desperate customers. If required, banks might also remain open on next Sunday (November 20).Back to latest news