The Bank of India will set up a centre in Bangalore in three months to counsel people who find themselves in debt trap.

Those who are not able to manage their loans obtained from any bank or daunting repayment schedules of multiple credit cards could approach the Centre, to be called “Abhay.”

Talking to presspersons here on Saturday, M. Narendra, Executive Director of the bank, gave the example of a man in Mumbai who had a loan of Rs. 30 lakh and found that he could hardly repay it. He was on the “verge of collapse” and learnt about Abhay Centre in time.

The counselling has helped him breathe easy and manage his debt better. He said the bank’s counsellors even visited the houses of victims in their bit to understand the problem and help them in managing their debts better.

They will even draft letters to banks on behalf of the victims. They cut down the unwanted charges on loans and educate people on legal issues related to loans as well. Similar centres set up in Mumbai, Wardha, Chennai and Gumla had already handed more than 4,400 cases.

Mr. Narendra clarified that the centres, established by a Trust floated by the bank, would not offer any financial assistance. There was a demand for similar centres in Hubli and Pune.

Many hits

He said the Abhay website had received more than 2,200 hits. The Trust, he said, had published booklets in Hindi, Marathi, English and Tamil and published articles in the quarterly in-house journal Taarangan.

He said the bank, along with other leading banks in the country, was in talks with the head of the Unique Identification Authority of India, Nandan Nilekani, regarding using the database of the banks to provide unique identification to individuals.

He said the smart cards issued to customers of different banks – 80,000 of them issued already to Bank of India customers – may be upgraded with unique identification to be provided by the authority.

The Bank of India would open 75 more branches in this financial year. It had set up two branches already this year in Karnataka and three more would come up in the State. One of them would come up at Moodbidri, near here, he added.

Mr. Narendra said the bank had sought RBI permission to start an additional 150 branches in the next financial year. At present the bank has 3,100 branches in India.

He said seven more banks were likely to be established in other countries. It already had 28 foreign branches. In addition, the bank had proposed to open 12 more in the next two years.

Mr. Narendra said the bank would also recruit 2,250 clerks and 1,000 officers soon.

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