Money problems troubling Madh Islanders amid lockdown

Updated: Apr 26, 2020, 07:16 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Residents complain that two out of three ATMs in the area are either not working or closed at any given point in time, leading to serpentine queues and minimum waiting time of 90 minutes; that local shops don't accept digital payments is another

Long lines are a common sight in front of ATMs, and most machines have been running out of cash as soon as they are refilled, say residents
Long lines are a common sight in front of ATMs, and most machines have been running out of cash as soon as they are refilled, say residents

The residents of Madh Island have been facing a severe cash flow problem amid the national lockdown that is currently in place to contain the spread of the Coronavirus—primarily due to the non-functioning of ATMs in their neighbourhood.

According to residents, there are a total of three ATMs located on the island. However, only one out of the three is working at any given time. But given the large number of people who visit the ATM on a daily basis, this shortage of functioning ATMs has caused serpentine queues to form outside whichever ATM is working—with a minimum waiting time of 90 minutes.

Manisha Suryavanshi, 47, a resident of Christian Lane
Manisha Suryavanshi, 47, a resident of Christian Lane

Manisha Suryavanshi, 47, a resident of Christian Lane, who is also disabled as she suffers from polio of the leg, said, "There are three ATMs located here but very often we find that two of them are not working at all. Either they don't have any cash in them, or the machines are simply out of order. There is no one deputed to take care of the machines on a daily basis. We do not have any other banks in a radius of five to eight kilometres. The frequency of cash being deposited in the ATMs has reduced so much that most of the days the two ATMs have their shutters down. People like me face a lot of problems searching for an ATM because it is difficult for me to travel, and now there are no autos to take me around either."

Suryavanshi, who is a single parent, said that she had written to Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh about the issue in the first week of this month. "He arranged for someone to come and help me withdraw money from the ATM. I withdrew enough money to last me for the next two months because I didn't know when I'd be able to make another trip. I have used the money to buy around 10 to 12 kgs of rice and flour. We have been surviving on this." She added, "The other issue is also that barely any shops in Madh Island accept digital payments—they all want to be paid only in cash—which is why it is important for people to have liquid money with them at all times."

Prashant Patil, 39, another resident, said, "One has to wait in line for at least three hours at an ATM at any given time. Every alternate day, both the machines (ICICI and Axis) run out of cash. There is another ATM nearby but it is located in the Navy Colony, where outsiders are not allowed. I sometimes have to go all the way to Malvani to withdraw money." He added, "The Axis Bank ATM always either has no money at all or shows a 'service low' message, while the ICICI bank ATM opens only for a couple of hours in the morning since it is located inside a private store. Every time I go to the ATM, there are at least 30 people waiting in line already. I've had to spend at least two hours in line to withdraw money."

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