Memories of demonetisation have come back to haunt common citizens after seven states – Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka – reported a sudden shortage of cash.
The government has attributed this shortage to a “sudden and unusual increase” in demand for cash, laying rest to the notion that demonetisation would ensure the dawn of a cashless economy. A senior official from the Finance Minister claimed that as opposed to an average demand of about Rs 20,000 crore a month, “in the first 13 days of April itself there was a demand of Rs 45,000 crore”.
“As we understand from various sources, the printing of Rs 2000 denomination notes has been less, with more emphasis on the printing of lower-value notes. ATM transactions have been steadily increasing, though not at the heady pace we saw from 2012-16. They have definitely come back to the pre-demonetisation days. The ticket size has also increased from Rs 2,900 to Rs 3,100 across our portfolio of ATMs,” said Radha Rama Dorai, MD, ATM and Allied Services, at FIS, which is one of the leading firms managing ATMs in India, to The Indian Express.
With citizens evidently annoyed at the prospect of running pillar to post trying to withdraw their own money, the government has sought to resolve the matter at the earliest by printing new notes on war-footing.
To prevent citizens from panicking the government has assured that “there is more than the adequate currency in circulation and also available with the banks.”
With ATMs running dry in these states, workers at a government-run Bank Note Press in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, are working three long shifts instead of two to print the necessary currency notes. This unit prints Rs 500 and Rs 2000 currency notes.
“In the last few days, the government has stepped up currency printing. As against Rs 500 crore worth of notes being printed per day, it is being increased to Rs 2,500 crore per day now in the denomination of Rs 500,” said Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg.
There is no official explanation yet from the government about what caused this sudden shortage of cash. Many spokespersons have come on various media platforms stating that it would be wrong to speculate without a thorough investigation into the matter.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)