Three villages in Ernakulam district have been identified as unbanked. Steps will be initiated to include the three villages, namely Kadamakkudi, Vengoor west, and Eramalloor (near Kothamangalam), in the financial inclusive projects, with the assistance of information technology tools.

K.R.Jayaprakash, Lead District Manager and representative of lead bank, Union Bank of India, told The Hindu that smart card scheme as well as business correspondent project of Dhanlaxmi bank were being considered for the inclusive financial growth. The district has 737 branches of various banks in the public and private sectors. It includes four branches of foreign banks.

The matter was discussed at the district level review and consultative committee meeting held here on Monday, in which the performance of the banking sector in the district during the first quarter which ended on June 30 was reviewed.

The RBI, in a notification in 2008, had permitted banks to engage individuals as Business Facilitators. Retired bank employees, ex-servicemen and retired government employees could be engaged as Business

Correspondents.

The RBI had said that while appointing individuals as BCs, banks may ensure that the individuals are permanent residents of the area in which they propose to operate. The Business Correspondents have to be attached to a specific bank branch to be designated as the base branch.

The distance between the place of business of a BC and the base branch, ordinarily, should not exceed 15 kms in rural, semi-urban and urban areas.

In metropolitan centres, the distance could be upto 5 kms. In case a need is felt to relax the distance criterion, the matter can be referred to the District Consultative Committee (DCC) of the district concerned for approval. The implementation of the BF/BC model should be monitored closely by controlling authorities of banks, according to the RBI notification.

The lead bank will open a financial literacy and credit counselling centre in the district. It is intended to provide information on various schemes available in the banking sector. The centre could be opened at the Collectorate complex or other suitable locations, Mr.Jayapraksh said.

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