Kolkata, Nov 10 (IANS) Two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, many bank branches, which opened on Thursday after remaining shut for a day, saw crushing crowds of people seeking to exchange old notes for the new.
In Kolkata, serpentine queues could be seen formed from early morning, way before the banks opened for business.
People across the the city and suburbs thronged the bank premises to exchange or deposit old currency notes and withdraw money after they faced acute cash crunch since the demonetisation announcement on Tuesday night.
"I am not even able to shave for the last two days as the saloons refused to accept a Rs 500 note since the announcement, let alone buy other necessities. I did not have the courage to exhaust the few hundred rupee notes which I would have needed during emergencies," said a middle-aged man.
Gearing up to meet an anticipated heavy rush of customers, bankers in West Bengal on Wednesday sought security from the state government in branches and at ATMs to maintain law and order. However, some customers complained the police presence was inadequate.
"There are only two police personnel at each branch and that is not sufficient to manage such mad rush of customers since morning," a customer at a jam-packed State Bank of India branch in north Kolkata said.
People who successfully exchanged the notes, stepped out of banks with broad smiles with the brand new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denomination notes in their hands. Some were seen taking selfies with the new notes.
Some bank branches reported customer agitation and some jostling. But some customers welcomed the government's decision to demonetise the higher denomination currency notes to tackle the black money problem.
"Though we are facing some trouble in the short run, I welcome government's decision to ban these notes. This is going to be better for our country's future economy," said an elderly man standing in the queue to withdraw his pension.
"This drastic step would be effective in curbing the black money menace and identifying the offenders in the country," a customer at an ICICI bank branch said.