A Rare Sight - Working ATM, No Lines. Villagers Don't Know How To Use It

People stood in long queues outside the bank while the adjoining ATM had no visitors.

Highlights

  • Long lines within bank, ATM outside is easy to access
  • Village located just 25 km from Bhopal
  • Villagers say no ATM cards, or dont know how to use them
Bhopal: At the ATM outside a public undertaking bank just 25 kilometres from Bhopal, there is no sign of the sort of lines that are making daily headlines.

At the Bank of Baroda branch in Sukhi Sewaniya village, people say they don't know how to use the cash machines and are intimidated by them.

65-year-old Basu Bai has come to this branch from her village seven kilometres away, where there is no bank. She wanted to reach the bank early to find a place at the top of the line, so she left her home at 5 am. There was no transport available, so she walked the entire distance.

She wants Rs 2,000 - an amount she could pull out from the cash machine. But she chooses instead to queue inside the branch.

"I do not have an ATM card," she told NDTV. "Even if I did, how would I know how to use it? I am illiterate. So I am standing in this long queue. I think it will take the whole day." That comes at a significant cost. "So today, I will not go out to work. I am a daily wager."

Standing just a few feet away in the separate men's queue is Lal Singh Sisodia, who is also a daily wager. This is his second visit to the bank in the last two days. Yesterday, it took him the whole day to deposit money, and today he is in queue to withdraw it because he has been told the transaction could not be done in one go at the counter. "I have an ATM card, but only my younger brother knows how to use it," the 27-year-old said.

As word spreads, Bhopal residents are heading here for easy access to a working ATM. Like Shyam Toward, who can barely believe his good luck. "From a friend I got to know that the ATM here has cash and there is no queue. So we came here to withdraw money which was hassle free."

Though bank officials say they cannot be formally interviewed, they explained that it's tough for rural branches like this to connect to servers in their head office which means that transactions are held up. Also, because most customers do not know how to read or write, bank staffers have to complete the paperwork for them, which stalls the lines for even longer. They confirm that most of their clients do not have ATM cards, so the only way to get cash is to brave the nearly all-day wait.
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