4,921 Odisha gram panchayats lack banking facilities

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government here on Saturday asked banks to set up brick-and-mortar branches in the unbanked regions of the state. While the government is stressing direct benefit transfer (DBT) under several schemes, as many as 4,921 panchayats lack bank branches in the state.

“We stress financial inclusion. We have requested bankers for end to end financial inclusion. In 4,921 panchayats, there are no branches,” said Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari after attending the 157th meeting of the State-level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC). The state has 6,234 gram panchayats.

The state government has urged bankers and the Centre to set up branches in places that are not connected by the banking system. With the government making payment to various social security schemes beneficiaries through DBT, lack of banks in rural areas was hindering the process, Pujari said.

He also expressed displeasure over poor lending to the agriculture sector. Only 38.13 per cent of the target is achieved, he said, adding that lending also remained poor in the allied sectors.

“We have requested bankers for opening brick and mortar branches in all areas and a target has been set. The beneficiaries of different schemes are facing difficulty in receiving money in the absence of bank branches,” said Development Commissioner Suresh Chandra Mohapatra.

Sources in the banking sector said that there are 5,395 brick and mortar branches in Odisha.

Debashish Panda, special secretary, Department of Financial Service, however, said there is no liquidity problem and the banks are flush with funds. “Banking Correspondent is a very effective model. People of the community in aspirational and LWE districts have been engaged as BCs,” Panda said.

(With agency inputs)

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