Business Standard

Issue natural calamity notification for 8 more flood-ravaged


Press Trust of India Mumbai
The Centre and Reserve Bank today advised Kerala to issue the natural calamity notification for the remaining eight districts at the earliest, with the date of the calamity as July 31, so that banks can act on the decisions taken at the special SLBC meetings held earlier this month and today.
The central bank separately also said it has amended the master circular to help open special forex/rupee accounts by authorised dealers to receive remittances to the chief minister's distress relief fund through exchange houses.
But the circular underlined that remittances are directly credited to the CM's fund by banks and lenders maintain full details of the remitters.
Today's was the second SLBC (state-level banking committee) meeting since the deluge that devastate Kerala and left over 300 dead and destroyed properties, crops, roads and other public infrastructure, an official of Canara Bank, the lead bank for the state, told PTI.
The first special SLBC meeting was held in Thiruvanathapuram on August 20.
The meeting today in the state capital was attended by Pon Radhakrishnan, junior finance minister at the Centre; state finance minister Thomas Isaac; SMN Swamy, the regional director of RBI; Debashish Panda, additional secretary at the Union finance ministry; PV Bharathi, executive director of Canara Bank; and senior civil servants, bankers, insurers.
According to the Canara Bank official, Radhakrishnan and Swamy asked "Kerala to issue the natural calamity notification for the remaining eight districts at the earliest with the date of the calamity as July 31, so that banks can act on the decisions taken at the special SLBC meeting held on August 20".
The official also said the RBI official asked the bankers to provide exchange facilities for currency notes to the general public without any hassles.
The Central minister outlined the steps taken by banks and insurance companies in the state to mitigate the suffering of the flood affected people.
Radhakrishnan said the Centre is taking special interest in the matter and that any requests from the state will be considered sympathetically and all possible help will be given.
At the August 20 SLBC meeting, Kerala had declared floods as a natural calamity in three districts.
The RBI official asked banks to ensure that they restructure the crop and other loans including MSME loans as per the RBI rules for natural calamity relief measures. This will allows banks to broadly restructure loans up to five years with one year moratorium on interest payment.
The central bank in a circular to the Kerala SLBC has asked banks to relax the KYC norms in the affected areas apart from providing fresh loans including consumption loans. Specifically, the RBI also asked banks to provide exchange facilities for soiled or torn notes.
Banks have also been asked to waive charges, late fees, commission on remittances and penal interest etc as per their discretion.
"The RBI has advised banks to mandatorily exchange soiled notes from anyone. Soiled note includes single cut notes. Mutilated notes multiple cut notes and notes where there can be some missing portions have to be exchanged by banks as per the note refund rules," the RBI circular said.
"All the above services should be offered to all the members of public. We also advise banks to sensitise their front office personnel to dispel the anxiety of the flood affected persons," it added.

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First Published: Aug 30 2018 | 6:15 PM IST

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