PMC branches run out of cash, depositors left empty-handed

Updated: Sep 30, 2019, 07:27 IST | Shailesh Bhatia, Chetna Yerunkar | Mumbai

As officials struggle to keep up with depositors, politicians demand that withdrawal limits be raised further

The Sahnis have fixed deposits worth over Rs 80 lakh at PMC Bank. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The Sahnis have fixed deposits worth over Rs 80 lakh at PMC Bank. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Even as families across the state struggle to manage their daily lives with their savings stuck in the beleaguered PMC Bank, politicians are having a field day milking the tragedy. The Sahni family in Andheri East has R80lakh in PMC Bank, but are struggling with daily expenses. Now, the BJP and Congress have jumped into the fray demanding a rise in withdrawal limits and threatening to go to court over the issue.

With fixed deposits of over Rs 80 lakh in Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (PMC), the Sahni household in Andheri East, is now facing what could best be described as relative poverty, where despite more than adequate funds and assets in the bank, a liquidity crunch has hit them hard where day-to-day living is concerned.

Narinder Singh, 80, the patriarch of the family, who started depositing money over two decades ago said PMC Bank had introduced something called a 'pigmy account' where a person from the bank would visit their motor spare parts shop in Opera House to collect some money every day. "This was considered long-term savings for future generations," he said.

The Sahnis are struggling to find funds for day-to-day expenses. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The Sahnis are struggling to find funds for day-to-day expenses. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

His elder son Parmeet Singh, 54, who broke away from the family business for his own export business of embroidered textiles said the first financial blow was that he had to scramble around to collect nearly Rs 5 lakh needed immediately to pay his Income Tax, TDS and GST. Parmeet said, "The family had planned a Europe vacation later this month, but the cheque issued as advance to the travel agent could not be honoured, much to the disappointment of my wife and daughter."

Parmeet said his biggest concern was that that he could not operate his business account. "It feels like I am restarting my well-established business from scratch, by submitting all my export related documents to a new bank, to open a fresh account, which is not an easy task. The authorities should have made some advance provisions for businessmen like us, who are responsible for making payments to their staff and workers."

"There are nearly 200 small-time embroidery workers, who have to be paid up to R7 lakh weekly, but their wages have been delayed. We have a reputation in the market, so no one is complaining as yet, but this cannot go on forever. Who will be responsible if some of them decide to turn aggressive in the future. It was deeply saddening to hear one of our foreign buyers complain that their money was not safe in India," said Jaspreet Kaur, the daughter-in-law.

"My mother, Pravin Kaur Dasan, 67, has invested nearly R30lakh in FDs and other financial schemes. By the grace of god we are financially strong, but the same cannot be said about the majority of account holders," she added. Jaspreet's brother, advocate Harmeet Singh said that his LIC policy was on the verge of collapse, as his cheque had bounced. "People have to be made aware about their rights as there are provisions where a loan can be adjusted against an FD, if it pertains to the same bank," he said.

Anil Nagpal, who has invested Rs 20 lakh in PMC FDs and is a senior member of the core committee formed by thousands of aggrieved investors, said that a collective complaint letter has been given to the police authorities. "We are active on social media and are trying our best to ensure that innocent people do not suffer for no fault of theirs. We are approaching the RBI governor next, to find a solution."

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