Curbs on Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank relaxed: How will ₹10,000 help, ask customers

Following two days of protests by customers of Mumbai-based Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank Ltd., the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) relaxed the regulatory curbs placed on the bank. While the relaxation offers some immediate relief, many of the bank’s customers continue to feel anxious.

In a statement released on Thursday, the RBI said customers could withdraw upto Rs 10,000, instead of the earlier mandated Rs 1,000. More than 60% of PMC Bank depositors would be able to withdraw their entire account balance, said the statement.

Now, those who wish to withdraw more than Rs 10,000 must fill a form stating the amount they require and the reason for the same. This form would then be sent to the RBI for approval by the bank before the customer can access the money. The form also requires a recommendation from the branch manager. So far, the approved list of reasons includes medical treatment, education, marriage and livelihood expenditure.

When the daily withdrawal amount was capped at Rs 1,000, Amandeep Randhawa, who runs a transport firm, had no choice but to keep his trucks standing. Speaking to HT before the RBI had announced the revised withdrawal limit, Randhawa, 46, said, “It is creating huge cash flow issues for me. I have to pay advances to my trucks, pay salaries to my employees, fill diesel in my trucks.”

Shashi Sahni, 43, works in a school and has a daughter with special needs. “I need money for my daughter’s medicine. We have to spend thousands on her medicine. Food in our house has run out and I don’t know where to go to get money for daily necessities,” said Sahni.

For 61-year-old AS Mehta, the RBI’s Tuesday announcement that it was imposing restrictions upon PMC Bank meant Mehta had to discharge himself from hospital. “I was admitted for the last 20 days because of a slipped disc,” said Mehta, who is unemployed. “I had to forcibly get discharged from the hospital as I could not continue to pay my hospital fees.”

Other customers in PMC Bank’s branches had similar stories. “I have no other source of income apart from the money in my account. I have a 55-year old daughter who is physically challenged and has to undergo operation which will cost me Rs 2 lakh. Her medicines cost Rs 700-800 a day,” said 84-year-old Pushpa Devi. She no longer works and is a single parent. “Being this old, it is difficult for me to travel and wait in long lines. I won’t even get a loan from any other bank because we have no earning members,” she said.

With the month drawing to a close, Simran Charan Sadhu, who works as domestic help, said she was worried about paying her two children’s school fees and rent. Businessman Gurpreet Singh Dhingra, 44, was anxious because he needed to pay the fees for his children’s chartered financial accountancy exam. “The hourly fees for that programme are Rs 7,000,” said Dhingra. “I don’t have money in any other account.”

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