Make a swachh investment, PSU banks told

ILLUSTRATION: sreejith r.kumar  

For public sector undertaking (PSU) bankers, cleaning up the sea of red on their books thanks to bad loans will no longer be enough. The Centre has written to PSU banks and insurance companies to build public toilets in and around their branches and join Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

“All public sector banks, public sector insurance companies, are requested to make special efforts in the construction of toilets for the public in their premises and nearby locations wherever feasible, and also arrange for their proper maintenance through outsourcing agencies under corporate social responsibility funds,” the Finance Ministry said in a communication to CEOs of financial institutions in the last week of December.

Assessments coming

As per the directive reviewed by The Hindu, banks have been asked to furnish data on construction of toilets and their maintenance to the Department of Financial Services in the Finance Ministry, so that their cleanliness efforts can be assessed every quarter along with achievements on credit growth, bad loan recoveries and priority sector lending.

“Cleanliness may figure as a specific agenda item in all quarterly, periodic review meetings,” the letter said. Banks have also been asked to promote cleanliness in automated teller machine booths, in withdrawal slips, and also to suggest cleanliness to loan customers while inspecting their premises.

Following the directive, the Department of Financial Services held a video conference with heads of PSU banks and insurers, where it was initially mooted that branches can let people use existing toilets within the premises as well.

“However, some bankers said toilets are often located near the cash counter and there could be a security issue. So, we were asked to construct toilets outside the branch,” said a banker who was privy to the meeting.

PSU banks have around 90,000 branches. Bankers said the construction of a toilet would cost ₹50,000 on an average, although it may be higher in urban centres and metro cities, where they may need to acquire land.

Several bank chiefs are surprised at the directive, as it is not seen as a core activity of a bank.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 2:14:18 PM |

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