Crashing out the cash

Monday Musing

[ Junroi Mamai ]

To an average middle class salaried person, the last weeks of a month are often tough financially. I am sure every one of us has experienced the frustration of abruptly running out of cash mid-month, no matter how hard we have tried to stretch the limited cash reserves in our wallets. There are always bills and fees to be paid, down payments to be made, and rents to be deposited in banks. Then there are the unexpected expenditures, especially during festival seasons, when everybody is in a festive mood and not so tightfisted about their spending.
Like many fellow denizens of the capital, I was prompt in reaching the ATM nearest my home to withdraw cash. Unfortunately, the SBI ATMs were out of order, and so were the others I managed to reach. The only way people could get their hands on their own hard-earned money was by waiting in unending queues for a long time in front of the ATMs of some of the private banks. Of course, cash was limited in these ATMs too.
I can completely understand the frustration and anger of the people who have to wait in long queues for so long, but what I fail to understand is the vandalizing of ATMs by frustrated customers. No one in their right mind would condone such behaviour.
The entire capital complex has over 70 SBI ATMs, installed in various sectors and colonies for the large number of customers. The bank authorities face a tough time catering to the growing demands of the lakhs of customers. Already there are many ATMs in the capital complex which are currently out of order. With the rise in the incidences of vandalism of ATMs, the banks are saddled with the additional task of repairing the damaged ones, which can take over a couple of weeks’ time. When queried as to why some ATMs remain out of order for so long, bank authorities claimed that a lone engineer has been entrusted with the job of repairing and maintaining the ATMs, while some of the mechanical parts have to be brought from outside the state – a process which obviously takes time.
During the recent festivities, the SBI authorities reportedly put Rs 10 crore within two weeks in the ATMs in both Itanagar and Naharlagun, besides depositing Rs 40 lakhs in various ATMs located within variable distances. However, as it was the festive season, the cash was withdrawn really fast; but this fact does not in any way justify damaging the ATMs. Once damaged, it takes the authorities weeks to make the ATMs operational again.
Now and then, there are reports of ATM vandalism, which bank authorities term a major setback to their services. Reportedly, during this year’s Durga Puja festivities, the ATMs in Ganga market and Chandranagar Tinali were damaged by miscreants
when they were unable to withdraw cash from them. In some cases, some miscreants shove stones into the ATMs’ cash dispensers for no apparent reason. These miscreants are well aware of the fact that the CCTV cameras in the ATMs do not show the cash dispenser in order to ensure the privacy of the customers.
Sadly, this is not the only example of the lack of consideration that some people have for public property. Not a single SBI ATM in the capital complex that we visit is free from gutka and pan masala stains splattered all across the floor.