With few automated teller machines located in the area, residents are forced to wait endlessly. But banks claim communal issues and congestion are keeping them away
The Old City may be famous for its great shops, eateries and heritage sites, but it is equally notorious for its traffic snarls, narrow, congested streets and burgeoning crowds. However, there is one other little known problem that the area faces — lack of sufficient ATMs.
With very few ATMs located in this area, people have to travel far to withdraw cash. At the few existing ATMs, serpentine queues and a long wait are commonplace.
Contrary to popular belief, the residents of Old City do use the facilities of the ATM extensively, so much so that the cash has to be refilled every few days. Union Bank, located opposite the High Court, operates just five ATMs in the area — two onsite and three offsite. Their ATMs are used so much that they have to refill cash thrice a week.
Considering there is a huge demand for ATM facilities, it is puzzling why banks shy away from setting up their outlets here. Ironically, Vijaya Bank, which is currently operating 70 ATMs in the City, has just one ATM in the Old City. On the other hand, Axis Bank has about 10 ATMs in the area as opposed to nearly 20 spread across Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills.
Ahmed Ziya, a resident of the area, said that because of fewer ATMs in the area, he has to wait for at least 15 minutes for his turn to withdraw cash. “This is ridiculous, really. There are several ATM users here, yet so few machines here. On regular days itself I have a long wait ahead of me when I want to withdraw cash. This is especially annoying when one is in a hurry. But the situation was worse during the curfew, when I had wait an hour for my turn,” he lamented.
Locating an ATM is another issue that people face here. Keshav G, a businessman in Old City, said that he has to search a lot for an ATM here. “It is really hard to locate one in the area. And even if you do, you have to travel a considerable distance for it,” he complained.
Every bank has a different story to tell when asked why there is an inadequate number of ATMs in the area. “Getting a place to build an ATM is hard here. This is a very congested area as well as very old. However, we are expanding our network of ATMs. In 2010, we had only two ATMs here and now we have 10,” said Madhu Sudhan Pabbathi, deputy manager, Axis Bank in Gulzar House.
GVS Shashtri, branch manager of Union Bank of India located opposite the High Court, agreed that setting up an ATM here is difficult. “There is a culture of using ATMs which has only been increasing over the years. But there is only so much that one can do,” he said. When asked if security is one of the reasons for the slow expansion of ATM network, he instantly said, “There is no question of security. We have armed security personnel outside every ATM.”
“There is absolute uncertainty in the area. Due to communal issues, we can’t operate properly. We ourselves are constantly sitting on the hotseat. This is perhaps why there aren’t as many ATMs in the area as compared to maybe Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills,” decoded a top-level employee at Vijaya Bank near Gulzar House, who wished not to be identified.