Saddled with the low offtake of credit and high NPA rate of agriculture credit in Punjab and Haryana, the Central Bank of India is geared up to expand in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Talking to media on the sidelines of the launch of the new schemes to augument its current account business, the Zonal Manager Chandigarh Zone of Central Bank of India, B Akbaraly told that the two states have most of the villages covered under banking system so the bank was lagging behind in the agriculture growth credit. Chandigarh zone includes Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Perdesh, Punjab, Haryana and Union Territarry of Chandigarh.
"Against the target of 18% lending to agriculture we could achieve only 12% and this is an area of concern. The scope of increasing agriculture lending is limited in these two states as the farmers are already having credit facilities from the existing branch network of various banks. So we are now eyeing Jammu and Kashmir as there is a tremendous scope", said Akbaraly.
He apprised that out of the 50 new branches proposed for this zone, 17 were earmarked for Kashmir valley. He added that the bank was going slow on branch expansion due to staff crunch. The Doaba belt of Punjab is also an important area wherevthe bank was looking to open 12 new branches, he said.
The bank has agriculture NPAs worth Rs 50 cr from Haryana and about 37 cr from Punjab. The recalcitrant attitude of the farmers due to political patronage also attributed to non recoveries from the hinterland, he said.
The bank plans to add 290 ATMs in six months in Chandigarh zone. After the addition of new ATMs, the total number of ATMs would stand at close to 470 in the zone.