PMC Bank: Weddings, dreams and hopes come crashing for aggrieved customers
On the morning after, customers continue scramble to withdraw their Rs 1,000 and desperately seek some answers but find none forthcoming from bank
Messages from the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank's MD and the RBI on the directives imposed on the bank brought no relief to account-holders as they read and re-read the RBI notices pasted outside all branches of PMC banks on Wednesday. Locked out of their accounts, customers tried to make sense of the notices even as they queued up at the branches to withdraw R1,000 that the RBI has permitted them to.
Money saved for marriages, children's education, medical emergencies, and more is now stuck with many fearing to lose it forever. People waited for hours outside several PMC banks on Wednesday to get more clarity on the situation. Disappointed customers waited to know the way to get their money back. Among these were account-holders with deposits worth more than R50 lakh in the bank.
According to the Reserve Bank of India's press release, PMC bank has been put under directions of the governing authority. Depositors will not be allowed to withdraw a sum exceeding R1,000 of whatever their total balance in a period of six months. A bank employee not willing to be named, said, "We are giving out forms to those who are complaining about medical emergencies or have weddings planned which will then be sent to the RBI. Once its approval comes in, the money will be allowed to be withdrawn. The account holders need not panic." He added, "Some other banks tried to lure our customers when the police had to be called in."
Angry customers thronged the DN Nagar branch of PMC bank on Wednesday to ask for their money back. Pics/Datta Kumbhar and Sameer Markande
Of schools, rents, and weddings
Simran Yadav, a resident of Motilal Nagar at Goregaon, has been making rounds of the Goregaon West branch to know if she can get her Fixed Deposit withdrawn. "I had put R1 lakh in an FD for my son's education as I was planning to shift him to a boarding school out of Mumbai," said the single mother, adding, "I don't know if I will get my money in time. The bank staff is only telling me that my money is safe. I am a single parent and I don't know from where will I raise money at such short notice."
Mumtaz Ansari, a resident of Bhagat Singh Nagar at Goregaon is the only earning member of his family and had deposited his entire salary in the bank. "I have to pay my rent in three days, along with taking care of my family's daily expenses. How will I get my money? My next salary will only come around October 10," said Ansari who earns around R10,000 and pays a house rent of Rs 4,500.
Another Bhagat Singh Nagar resident Akhtar Shaikh too was at the Goregaon West branch worrying about his son's wedding planned for next month. "We have to pay for the jewellery that is ordered and the wedding hall before this month-end. My son has been saving money in this bank and we also have an FD. How can they abruptly tell us that we cannot withdraw our money? The employees have told us that we can apply to the RBI and they can try and do something for us. But that will be too late," Shaikh said.
Dreams and hopes at stake
Mihir Shah, an account-holder at the Versova branch, said, "It is a major lapse on the part of the RBI and the bank employees. How is it possible that they did not know and one fine day the bank issues such instructions. My mother is 91-year-old and I had saved money for her in an FD in case of emergency. Who will address these problems?"
Another 52-year-old customer, Raj Manimorya, works as a housekeeping staff at CEAT, earning Rs 15,000 per month. He uses it to pay his son's fees, send money back to his family in Uttar Pradesh and save for his daughter's marriage. "For the past seven to eight years, I have been eating one meal a day just to save money for my children's education and daughter's marriage. I have saved around Rs 1.20 lakh in nine years. We had planned her wedding in October for which I was heading to UP next week," narrated Manimorya, adding, "What will we do in Rs 1,000? I can barely reach home in that money. I have lost everything for now and do not know how to go ahead with my daughter's marriage."
'RBI should have though better'
In the eastern suburbs too, the story was similar. Suraj Panda of Bhandup rushed to the bank to withdraw his Rs 80,000 after he got the news. "I had saved it to pay my daughter's engineering college fees next year. I am not educated so it was my dream to educate my child properly. I don't know what to do," he said. Another customer was 23-year-old Rohit Naik who recently cleared his Combined Defense Services exam (armed forces entrance exam). He had saved some money by doing part-time jobs to be able to travel for his interview.
"CDS is one of the toughest exams which I have cracked in my second attempt. I was so happy. I used to do the night shift to save money for travel and other expenses. I had deposited around Rs 1.5 lakh but now I don't have the money to reach the interview venue," Naik said. Anil Ambokar, an account-holder at the Versova branch with over Rs 2 lakh in the bank. "How will I pay my loans, manage my daily expenses like bills etc? The RBI and the government should have at least thought about small account-holders like us. There are so many senior citizens who have an account in this bank. God knows how will they manage their expenses," he expressed.
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe
Maharashtra Assembly Elections: Sachin Tendulkar, Deepika Padukone and others urge people to vote