Bankers have joined security forces facing challenges in the pockets affected by the Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
Financial inclusion in the region that Maoists claimed to be their “liberated zone” is becoming a daunting task for the bank authorities. Chhattisgarh has taken a strong note and asked bankers to streamline the banking services in the restive areas.
During the state-level bankers meeting, Chhattisgarh government had taken a strong exception over decreasing number of bank branches and automated teller machines (ATMs) in the insurgency-hit areas. The state government had set a deadline of January 31, 2020 for the bankers to open new branches and installed the machines.
Chhattisgarh’s 14 districts have been identified as LWE-infested; most of it are also aspirational districts. At present, 467 branches—of mostly nationalized banks—are functioning besides 362 ATMs (installed other than branch premises). During a recent meeting with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman had assured of opening 33 branches of banks and ATMs soon.
Besides internet connectivity for core banking, cash transfer to the interior areas where even security forces move with maximum precautions had been the biggest problem for the bankers. At few branches, cash was transferred in helicopters.
“The bankers have been asked to work in coordination with the district collector and superintendent of police for expanding banking services in Maoist-hit areas,” state’s Chief Secretary R P Mandal said. The state government had offered its premises near camps of security forces and police stations for new branches and ATMs.
The Union Government is also focussing on financial inclusion in the LWE. According to latest available figure with the ministry of home affairs, department of Posts sanctioned 1788 branch post offices in Phase-I in 32 most LWE affected districts. At present, 1484 branch post offices of the sanctioned have become functional. Further, Department of Financial Services has opened 604 new bank branches and installed 987 ATMs in 30 most LWE affected districts.