‘People won’t ask for banks and ATMs without there being any development’

The country has seen unprecedented development in the last nine years since the United Progressive Alliance assumed power at the Centre in 2004, said Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram here on Sunday.

Addressing a gathering at the inauguration of Punjab National Bank’s 6,000 branch at Alangudi and 6,001 branch at Sivaganga town, he said that there is a demand for opening a bank branch and an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) at every other village.

“If there had been no development at all, why would people ask for banks and ATMs,” he questioned and pointed out that he could observe a vast change in his home constituency Sivaganga itself in the last 10 years. He said that it had made great strides in terms of development.

It now had better road connectivity, rail connectivity and even air connectivity through its nearest airport in Madurai.

It has got many facilities such as two sugar mills — one at Alangudi and another at Sivaganga and two Kendriya Vidyalaya schools — one at Karaikudi and another at Sivaganga, he added.

“I have visited the constituency on 75 occasions in the last 50 months which means that I made three visits every two months. I make such frequent visits to know your grievances and redress them. I cannot do it by sitting in New Delhi,” he said.

Stating that a nation’s development could not be judged by increase in number of police stations or arrest of criminals, he said:

“Economic growth is the real indicator of development. Provision of better medical facilities, establishment of industries, increase in number of bank branches are some of the key pointers, he said.

Justifying the necessity of more number of bank branches in every locality, he said that no bank opens a branch without conducting an independent study about the prospects. Establishing many branches of different banks in the same locality would lead to a healthy competition.

On the benefits that people would get due to opening of new bank branches, he said that PNB’s Alangudi branch had received deposits worth Rs. 3.5 lakh on the day of inauguration but gave loans to the tune of Rs. 1.65 crore on the same day.

Similarly, the bank’s Sivaganga branch had received deposits worth Rs. 25 lakh but gave loans amounting to Rs. 1.65 crore to 256 beneficiaries.

“This is how inauguration of new bank branches helps the people,” he said.

In his address, the bank’s chairman-cum-managing director K.R. Kamath said that the bank would adopt Alangudi village in order to celebrate the momentous occasion of the institution having established its 6,000 branch and provide basic amenities required for the village in phases.

He said the bank, with eight crore customers, had 146 branches in Tamil Nadu alone. Forty-five per cent of the branches were located in rural and semi-urban areas.