ATMs in Imphal run dry as banks stop services amid curfew order
In view of bank service confusion, the Manipur government on Tuesday recommended that banking services may be permitted for both government and non-government transactions with limited staff.
ATMs booths in Imphal city ran out of cash as bank activities stopped following the curfew order issued by the state government in seven districts, including the twin districts of Imphal.
As a result, people in Imphal were seen doing whirlwind tours of ATM booths in the capital city for a couple of days, with the hope to withdraw cash. Many of them were seen queuing up at a few ATM booths, purportedly with cash, like the SBI MG Avenue, shedding their fear of Covid-19.
“I have just a few hundred rupees with me which is why I have to come out in search of cash. I don’t feel comfortable standing in queues for cash amid the prevailing situation of Covid-19. But, I have mouths to feed for which I need money,” said one Khai Haokip, a resident of Imphal East district.
In the absence of cash in ATMs and with banks closed, people are shelling out few extra bucks, as a percentage, in order to get cash from small outlets/shops.
The Imphal Free Press encountered a couple of shops where people are being offered Rs 20 deductions for every 1,000 Rupees, cash. While one may think the exchange rate as exorbitant, many people did not hesitate spending the extra bucks given that it is easy and safe.
“I don’t mind giving a few 10 to 20 rupees extra. It is a lot safer and quicker. Who would want to move around at this time when the situation is worsening and risk one’s life,” said one B Nongmaithem.
Last Friday, the state clamped curfew in seven districts, including Manipur’s twin capital Imphal East and West district till May 17 after witnessing 600 Covid-19 positive cases, the highest single-day spike so far.
Earlier, the state while declaring containment in Greater Imphal and areas under IMC banking services was permitted from 10 am to 2.30 pm. Nevertheless, the transaction was limited to government schemes, projects, Covid-19 related, etc.
However, on May 7, the state issued a curfew order that limited movements and activities to only essential services like health, PDS and goods movements among others. No mention of banks related activities and staff movements was made in the order.
An official source from SBI, Imphal said, “We are left with no choice but to close our banks as the government did not mention activities relating to banks. Moreover, our staffs also encounter problems while travelling as the curfew order did not give permission for bank staffs”.
The source informed that most of the SBI offices closed since the following day of the curfew order was issued.
Against this backdrop, the Manipur government on Tuesday recommended that banking services may be permitted for both government and non-government transactions with limited staff.
Ningthoujam Geoffrey, secretary to Chief Minister of Manipur, in a statement, stated that the decision was taken following several requests received from the public for suitable relaxation from the present curfew restrictions, imposed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Geoffrey stated that the state Home department has been intimated to issue an order for taking up the necessary measures.
Nevertheless, services will be permitted with limited staff on Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10 am to 2.30 pm, said Geoffrey. The finance department and treasuries will resume work with minimal staff, it stated.
The CM’s secretary also stated that home delivery services for food items, vegetables, groceries, medicines among others will also be allowed to resume.
Home delivery services under ICDS/ICPS (supplementary nutrition for children, pregnant and lactating mothers), and Child Protection Services (Orphanages, Children Homes, Observation Homes, etc. along with the sale of animal feeds, milk and milk products will be permitted, he said in a statement. The matter has, therefore, been reviewed and as desired, the mentioned services and activities may be permitted, subject to observation of social distancing, wearing of masks and sanitization norms strictly, it stated.
Meanwhile, in a late night development, the state Home department issued an order permitting banking services with limited staff on Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm for government and non-movement transactions. ATM services will also resume as per the order.
The order also permits home delivery of various goods and services (food items, vegetables, groceries, medicines, etc.) including ecommerce platforms, sale of fish feed/animal feed; milk and milk products; fish, poultry and poultry products from 7 am to 2 pm, for purchase by locals.
Home delivery services under ICDS/ICPS (supplementary nutrition for children, pregnant and lactating mothers as well as Child Protection Services (Orphanages, Children Homes, Observation Homes, etc.) are permitted, it added.
Services of the Forest, Environment and Climate Change department, Finance department and Treasuries are allowed with minimal staff, it stated.
The order mentioned that complete closure of certain critical services has led to difficulty in provision of government services or undue hardship to the public. The matter has been reviewed and it has been considered appropriate to permit certain activities / services, subject to adequate terms and conditions, it stated.
The mentioned activities and services are permitted in addition to those already permitted vide order of May 7, subject to observation of social distancing, wearing of masks and sanitization norms strictly, it added.