NEW DELHI: Frustrated by long queues outside banks and ATMs? You can now drive into a petrol pump to draw cash. Swipe your debit card at petrol stations run by state-run oil companies and you will get Rs 2,000. The facility will initially be available at 2,500 petrol pumps across the country that have card swipe machines from State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank. Over the next three days, the facility will be extended to 20,000 outlets that have card swipe machines from HDFC Bank, Citibank and ICICI Bank. The move, initially suggested by the All India Petroleum Dealers Association, is part of the Centre’s efforts to ease the rush for new currency notes at bank branches and functional ATMs (cash dispensing machines) following withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills. But, there are also fears of a rush at petrol pumps, which could inconvenience customers seeking to tank up. The details of the plan to use pumps to dispense cash were worked out on Thursday at a meeting between senior executives of Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum and SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya. The facility to dispense cash from petrol pumps will continue even after November 24, the time till which old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 can be used to pay for essential services. The withdrawal will be restricted to Rs 2,000 per debit card per day.”We are very happy that the government has accepted our proposal. We wrote to the prime minister on November 14 to apprise him of the situation at petrol pumps and our willingness to help mitigate people’s cash woes. We have never shied away from serving any national cause. We are happy to assist the government in its fight against black money and terror funding,” AIPDA president Ajay Bansal told.
According to Bansal, the move would help restore order at petrol pumps and avoid heated arguments with customers.
Since the withdrawal of the notes, fuel stations have seen long queues and heated arguments with pump attendants as consumers paid with old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes –even though they had bought fuel worth far less, in the hope of getting bills of Rs 100 or lower denomination as change. Due to shortage of smaller denomination notes, pumps have been selling fuel for round figures.
“Our pump attendants are as good as, if not better than, bank tellers when it comes to handling cash. In banks they have to make several entries.At petrol pumps, we will swipe and once the transaction is cleared, hand over the money .So it will be quicker and people can come to get cash even after work,” Bansal said.