Odisha asks banks to open branches in Panchayats, speed up Aadhar seeding

Bhubaneswar, Aug 19 (IANS) The Odisha government on Friday asked banks to open new branches in every Panchayat and complete Aadhar seeding to allow direct transfer of government benefits to people.

“Even today about 80 per cent of our Gram Panchayats do not have a bank branch,” Finance Minister Pradeep Amat said at the 144th meeting of the State-Level Bankers Committee here.

Despite efforts to provide basic banking services in interior areas through self-help groups (SHGs) and business correspondents, a sizeable number of people continue to be excluded, he said.

Amat requested all banks to provide basic banking facilities in the sub-service areas allotted to them in a time bound manner.

He said the government wants to encourage direct transfer of benefits under government schemes to the people.

“This has not been possible due to poor bank branch network in interior areas. Poor Aadhar seeding of bank accounts is also a worrying factor,” said Amat.

Although Aadhar enrolment has been done for 91 per cent of the eligible people in Odisha, Aadhar seeding has been done only for 35 per cent of the bank account holders, he said.

Banks may conduct Aadhar seeding in a camp mode in coordination with concerned government departments, said the minister.

He said the state government is going to set up a special cell to improve direct benefit transfer.

The minister said initiatives have also been taken to provide banking services through mobile vans.

“Many banks have also started installing Micro-ATMs through which rural customers can withdraw money from any bank outlet. Banks should think of more such innovative ideas to reach out to rural masses.”

He also urged the bank authorities to provide agriculture loans pro-actively.

“Agriculture has always been a priority area for the state. Banks in the state could achieve only 85 per cent of their crop loan target for the year 2015-16. Under Agriculture Term Loan, the achievement was less than 50 per cent,” said Amat.

He asked them to ensure 100 per cent target achievement in agriculture and allied sectors.

–IANS

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