No end to cash struggle of unbanked villages

Shortage of cash in banks and delay in recalibration of ATMs pose problems for people from different sections of society

Published: 13th December 2016 04:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th December 2016 05:46 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

JAGATSINGHPUR: Long queues in front of banks and outside ATMs and people waiting patiently for hours to draw their quota of cash for the day to manage daily expenses was the scene in several parts of the district after the announcement of demonetisation. A month after, not much has changed.
Shortage of cash in banks and delay in recalibration of ATMs in some areas have posed problems for people from different sections of the society.
Sources said the district has nearly 150 ATMs of different nationalised banks but only SBI machines are functioning properly while those of other banks are non-functional due to delay in recalibration or short supply of cash. Some ATMs, which were functional after recaliberation, too remain closed now due to cash crunch.

Branch Manager, Corporation Bank, Laxmidhar Rout said, “Our branch requires `10 lakh cash a day but the same is not availble. To handle the rush, most customers are given smaller currencies.”
On the other hand, the woes of people in rural areas seem to be far from over. Of 194 panchayats in the district, only 70 have banks. In the unbanked villages, facilities introduced by the Centre to address cash problems in rural and semi-urban areas have failed to meet the needs of the people. The network of banking correspondents (agents providing basic banking services in remote areas where banks can’t practically start a branch) and mobile ATMs is not strong. With the banking correspondents not visiting rural areas claiming shortage of cash in hand, two mobile cash dispensing units of SBI, equipped with Point-of-Sale (POS) machines are moving only in urban areas to save on transportation expenses and low turnout customers in rural areas.
The Government had pressed 147 banking correspondents into service in the district and provided them with ` 50,000 cash each.

Collector Yamini Sarangi said, the district administration has been receiving allegations of deposits of heavy cash in the accounts of SHGs following which the bank officials have been asked to do the needful. The administration has also taken steps to provide banking services, particularly transaction of money, in unbanked panchayats, she added.
Lead Bank Manager, UCO Bank, Natabar Nayak said, “The district has received only 40 per cent of total cash requirement. Of this, 20 per cent is deposited in ATMs and some given to BCs resulting acute shortage of cash in the banks. Out of 150 ATMs, recalibration has been completed in 127 ATMs while other ATMs are not operating due to delay of recalibration and shortage of cash.”

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