Hand-held device of Business Correspondents will announce, in the local language, amount being withdrawn

For the rural pensioners in Madurai district, anxious wait for the postman and long walk under the scorching sun to distant bank branches will soon be a thing of the past.

With the launching of pension disbursal through biometric smart cards, pensioners — and soon beneficiaries of all other Social Security Schemes — will be able to withdraw money right in their village through Business Correspondents (BCs) appointed by public sector banks.

The BCs have been equipped with hand-held devices which will be connected wirelessly to the respective bank's central network. The beneficiary can access his account through the smart card. The device will announce, in the local language, the amount being withdrawn thereby eliminating scope for mischief. It will also provide a statement, albeit in English.

Expanding coverage

In the first phase, the scheme will cover all villages with population of more than 2,000 and 60 such villages have been identified in Madurai district. While full-fledged bank branches have been opened in three villages, the rest will be covered through BCs. In the next phase, the coverage will be expanded to villages with a population of 1,000 to 2,000.

Soon, officials said, disbursement of assistance in all government social security schemes will be carried out in a similar fashion.

At a function at Sivarakottai on Tuesday, Collector U. Sagayam launched the scheme in 13 villages that are being covered by Canara Bank (3), Indian Overseas Bank (4), Uco Bank (3), Union Bank of India (2), and Bank of Baroda (1).

This scheme will be launched in another nine villages within a few days as State Bank of India (SBI) was awaiting administrative clearance. While another 100 villages would be covered by June, all the 157 will be covered by the first week of July.

Addressing the gathering of villagers, Mr. Sagayam said that pensioners need no longer wait for the postman to get their money and fear that they would be deprived of a portion of their pension. The Collector urged the officials to ensure that all eligible pensioners were covered.

No more impersonation

S. Shanthi, Revenue Divisional Officer, Usilampatti, said that biometric features of the smart card would eliminate impersonation and ensure that only the genuine beneficiary was able to access the bank account.

K. Lakshmipathikumar, Deputy General Manager of Canara Bank, the Lead Bank for Madurai district; B.K. Balavinayagam, Assistant General Manager of Canara Bank; K.N. Subramanian, Lead District Manager; R. Rajaram, Special Deputy Collector (Social Security Scheme); and K. Ramasubramanian, Kallikudi Branch Manager, Canara Bank, spoke.

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