BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Centre on Monday informed the Lok Sabha that all the villages of Odisha are covered under financial inclusion programme, the ground reality is quite different.As high as 63 per cent (pc) of the gram panchayats (GPs) in the State do not have brick and mortar bank branches while 49 GPs are devoid of any banking coverage.
Union Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat Karad said that out of the 44,982 inhabited villages mapped under GIS-based Jan Dhan Darshak (JDD) App, 44,977 villages (99.99 pc) are covered with banking outlets. As per Centre’s data, all GPs of the State are covered with banking outlets either through bank branch or banking correspondent or India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) within the radius of 5 km.
However, a recent report of the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) stated that there are 49 gram panchayats covering 357 villages of the State which are yet to be provided financial services either through banking correspondents or IPPB. The maximum number of unbanked GPs are, ironically, located in two coastal districts of Jajpur (15) and Kendrapara (10).
Of the total 6,798 GPs, only 2,502 GPs have bank branches while 4,234 GPs are covered by banking correspondents (BCs) and 13 GPs by postal banks.Replying to a query from BJD MP Pinaki Mishra, the Union Minister said the RBI has asked all SLBCs to identify one district in each State on pilot basis and allot the same to a bank having significant footprint to make the district 100 per cent digitally enabled.
As per SLBC, Cuttack and Balangir districts were identified as digital promotion districts and the two have achieved an overall 99 pc digital coverage. On July 14, 2021, RBI further advised SLBCs to select one or more districts and make them 100 per cent digitally enabled in consultation with the State government and other stakeholders.
Accordingly, Sambalpur and Ganjam districts have been identified for undertaking digital coverage by Punjab National Bank and Union Bank of India respectively for the last financial year. As of December 2021, the two banks have achieved an overall 70 pc digital coverage. The SLBC has given targets to different commercial banks to open 65 bank branches in 2021-22. However, only 19 branches were opened.