Syndicate Bank will open 150 branches for financial inclusion in January all over India, said Devananda Upadhyaya, GM, Syndicate Bank. He was speaking at a press meet in Mogaru village in Mangalore district, where the bank’s first ‘financial inclusion’ branch in Dakshina Kannada district was inaugurated on Friday by P. Vijaya Bhaskar, Regional Director, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Bangalore.

Syndicate Bank has been allotted 439 villages spread over 29 districts in Karnataka for financial inclusion, said Mr.Upadhyaya. Syndicate Bank has a target of 1493 villages (with a population of over 2,000) to be covered by banking by March 2012. As part of the financial inclusion project, it has already opened 24 new branches in villages allotted under financial inclusion.

The bank has also selected 723 business correspondents (BCs) to cover the remaining 726 villages. BCs open accounts and have handheld accounts to deposit and withdraw cash, said Mr.Upadhyaya. He said that the bank has trained its 429 branch managers to implement the delivery system.

Products specially designed for financial inclusion such as general credit card (FI-GCC), Kisan Credit Card (FI-SKCC), recurring deposit (FI-RD) and micro insurance will be made available to customers. There is also an overdraft facility for all savings bank (FI-SB) accounts opened in villages. The bank will also exchange soiled and cut notes and coins.

Mr.Vijaya Bhaskar said financial inclusion is “good” in Dakshina Kannada as there is one bank for every 4,800 people and that farmers should avail facilities of banks as the land holding per farmer is reducing and he has to resort to mixed farming, which requires financing.

Response to branch

In the last three days since the opening of the first ‘financial inclusion’ branch of Syndicate Bank in Mogaru village of Mangalore district, 450 applications for opening accounts have been received, said Prabhakar K., branch manager, Syndicate Bank, Mogaru. He said that the branch covers 2,708 people in 614 households and that half the number of applications are from women.

Mr. Upadhyaya said, “Getting the bank nearer to the customer in rural areas is important because long distances mean one day’s loss of pay for a worker.

Earlier, the people of Mogaru village travelled seven kilometres to a Syndicate Bank branch in Kaikamba. The newly opened branch is 2 km away from their homes, said Vinod Kumar Shetty and Kunjan Bhandari, residents of Mogaru village.

Entreaty to be polite

Mr. Vijaya Bhaskar requested all bank branches to offer the farmer a glass of water when the latter walk into the bank in rural areas. That is more important than increasing the number of branches and the number of people in financial inclusion, he said.

Jayananda, member of Mogaru panchayat, said that villagers are made to run around for documentation several times for specific papers, photos, photocopies, and finally told the manager is absent. Also, forms in the bank are in English. “They should be in Kannada or Tulu,” he said. Ravishankar J.S., representative of the RBI ombudsman, said people can write their complaints on a postcard and send it to the bank for action to be taken.

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