Odisha to empower rural masses through mobile ATMs

Bhubaneswar, June 28 (IANS) Odisha is to introduce mobile ATMs that will eventually benefit some 360,000 agricultural families in the remotest areas of six tribal districts that have access to Kisan Credit Cards to spare them the trouble of travelling to a bank to draw their entitlement or make deposits in their accounts.

“Under the existing system, Kisan Credit Card holders avail loans by presenting pass books and cheques at bank branches. They have to travel many kilometres to draw and deposit the loan amounts, wasting almost a day every time. We have seen that a sizable number of such credit card holders were not availing the loans against their sanctioned limits,” Bishnupada Sethi, secretary of the department of cooperation, told IANS.

Money transferred through the direct transfer scheme and the rural jobs guarantee scheme can also be withdrawn through the ATMs, Sethi added.

Considered a first for India’s cooperative sector, a pilot project would be launched in December by the Odisha State Cooperative Bank (OSCB) in the six tribal districts of Keonjhar, Koraput, Kalahandi, Mayurbhanj, Sundergarh and Sambalpur.

“This proposal has been approved by the government. Work is on to launch the project in December,” Sethi said

The state government, which is investing Rs.6 crore in the project, will initially deploy about 20 mobile vans, each with an ATM.

The vehicles, with bank staff on board, would travel to the villages on specified dates and provide the necessary banking services to the people. Subsequently the facilities would be extended to other parts of the six districts, he said.

Odisha has a population of about 41 million and about 75 percent of its workforce is engaged in the agriculture sector.

All the banks in the state have together issued Kisan Credit Cards to about five million farm families to give them access to institutional credit for cultivation of seasonal crops and also term loans for agriculture and allied services.

The OSCB has issued about 78 percent of the Kisan Credit Cards through its middle-rung 17 central cooperative banks and 2,714 primary cooperative societies.

The OSCB has been providing around 65 percent of the crop loans disbursed in the state by all the banks together.

(Jatindra Dash can be contacted at [email protected])

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