Post Mortem

Bank ATM services require authorities urgent attention

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/7/2020 12:44:18 PM IST

 The ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) services of the banks in Dimapur, Nagaland have reached an all-time low as their purpose to the society has not been provided. It is more than ever that we need the banks to initiate an impeccable job in providing their much needed facility and make life easier for the common people. With ATM’s running dry for the past few months, cash crunch is bothering many districts across Nagaland, with public facing a lot of inconvenience. It is noticed by every citizen that most of the ATM’s are not in a functioning condition and this problem has been going on for a very long time, even before the Covid-19 lockdown and it has been ignored by authorities to rectify this matter. This issue cannot be directed to any bank in particular but concerns both private and public sector banks. Three out of five ATM’s are found to be out of order or not in a functioning condition, downing its shutter while indicating no cash in hand.

It is understood that the ATM maintenance and reloading of cash for transactions are usually handled by private agencies and due to lockdown only 30% workforce is permissible, but this does not highlight the issue as to why this grievance has been present in our district and many other even before this lockdown for many years.  

The various economic classes of society have undergone this problem to stand in queue for thirty minutes or more in order to dispense cash for their daily uses as the ATM centres, although having two or more ATM’s, cannot make sure that all of them are in working condition, especially during business hours of the day as many people face immense problem, having homes to run, families to look after, payments to make, depend on essential commodities for day to day needs through cash as most of the shops do not accept card or online payment, hence making us more dependent on the availability of cash transaction for almost every aspect of life. Instances such as a person waiting for their pension money to be withdrawn is faced with the dilemma to look around for functioning ATM’s and on finding one, faces another problem to wait in queue for a long time in this scorching heat as there are more people from different locations all jumbled up in that one particular standalone ATM that’s providing refuge to more than fifty people in an hour or two. A labour who has just received his payment has the urgency to go to an ATM the next day in order to withdraw their cash as back home their family is depended on that income for daily supply of food and basic amenities, and at the same time he/she has pending bills to pay and also have their work to attend, and at such moment they are found wandering the city looking for that one particular ATM.

I too have been a victim to this mishap and many a times wandered the city in search for that one God-sent ATM that’s actually in a functioning condition providing refuge to those many people who have so miserably been wandering the city in lookout for that particular gold-spot (functioning ATM) that’s going to solve their many problems. A top RBI official had blamed the shortage of cash in ATM’s due to ‘overdraw of cash’; meaning people are withdrawing more money than they ought to (As per Morung Express dated 8th April 2020). But the problem which goes unnoticed is the fact that more than 80% of shops or businesses do not have online facilities or card payment options, leaving the common people with no choice but to rely on cash based transaction. Nagaland being one of the eastern most state of India, sharing an ‘international border’ is a very sensitive location for our nation India, and in it, the only district (Dimapur) that is equipped with both a rail line and air/flight services connecting this state to many other states at a convenient and speedy way, and the ‘business hub’ of Nagaland, should at least, be facilitated with an uninterrupted ATM services just like all other states across our country, not because of its ‘want’ but because of its ‘necessity ‘or should I rather say its ‘urgency’. Comparing to other states, they have ATM facilities that function round the clock (24x7), but in our state 90% of our ATM down their shutter at night time for security reasons, given that our state is classified under the ‘disturbed area’ status. This in turn makes the ATM available to the people for only a little more than half a day, and even in that scenario, ATM’s are out of order or running out of cash, or mostly going through a ‘link failure’ problem. 

While I waited in that unceremonious queue, i noticed that a new ‘banking system’ was born to this problem. As people have said it for thousands of years, so it still must be said for the next thousand years, ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’. Due to lack of facilities and availability of functioning ATM’s, I noticed that the people standing in queue ended up ‘banking with each other’. A person in line to deposit money in ATM ended up making a sweet deal with another who had the luxury of online banking system, and in turn one ended up providing the other with cash while the other transferred the money to their respective accounts. A simple act of transaction benefitted both this individual and saved their much precious time and in doing so they went their ways, while the rest of us stood there spellbound admiring this sudden transaction as though one might admire a shooting star and after a moment of silence, ended up in laughter with much appreciation and deep rooted impatience.

In conclusion, the question that every common man raises is how long do we have to face these grievances? And if the covid-19 lockdown has made things harder even for the authorities, then can we be assured that this problem will be immediately addressed after this unfortunate lockdown? Either way, as always, we the common people across all districts of Nagaland have to wait, and wait, and wait a little more to find out what will be and in doing so deal with this inconveniences mentioned above, every day, and wake up to a new day, with a new problem, forgetting the previous, or rather, become immune to it.

Hekaito Chowdhury (hekaitochowdhury@gmail.com)

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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