As customers wrestle with cash crunch after Fani cyclonic storm crippled telecommunication and internet services, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed banks to extend their service hours in Odisha.
“Banks have been instructed to open branches on all working days in all the affected districts till six pm for banking transactions and withdrawal of cash. Further, banks should also function on Sundays and other holidays as per instructions of the respective district collectors”, said M K Mall, regional director, RBI, Bhubaneswar.
If required, banks can extend it further, he added.
For timely disbursements of cash, the central bank has requested all the controlling heads of the banks to provide mobile ATMs in unbanked gram panchayats and remote locations and press all the banking correspondents (BC’s) into service to ensure required banking services, he added.
Additional manpower will be deployed at the bank branches in affected districts like Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur for providing services in a hassle free manner.
With connectivity being the serious obstacle in banking services after Fani caused wide scale destruction to communication infrastructure, the banks will impress upon the telecom providers to provide connectivity at the branches at the earliest.
The central bank already has in place a Reserve Bank of India (Relief Measures by Banks in Areas affected by Natural Calamities) Directions 2018 for banks that includes necessary guidelines to provide relief measures in case of natural calamities.
RBI has also directed the banks to have their board approved policies to deal with such eventualities to ensure that requires relief and assistance are provided at a faster space.
A special meeting of State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) meeting will be convened on May 10 to chalk out a plan for providing relief to the cyclone affected persons.
“We have no dearth of cash in any of the currency chests and bank branches before and after the cyclone. Only problem is the network connectivity and power supply”, said the senior RBI official.
Except Puri which has been worst affected by the cyclone, more than 50 per cent currency chests and branches are operational. In Puri, the situation is also becoming normal, he added.
He also said that about 50 per cent of ATMs are also functional in all the affected districts barring Puri.