The RBI has allowed private banks to open their branches in rural and semi-urban locations of the north-eastern states without its approval as part of the financial inclusion policy.
Officials here today said the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) nod was no more mandatory for both the private and the public sector banks for opening branches in smaller towns and large villages with population below 50,000.
Union Finance Ministry had issued direction to the banks to prepare plans for increasing the number of branches in the region, reiterating its earlier decision of opening bank branches in all the villages and hamlets having a population over 5,000 within a year.
About 40 per cent of 79,933 bank branches in the country were located in rural India and another 19,057 branches were in semi-urban centres, including 350 branches in the North East (NE) region, officials added.
‘The facilitation for increasing bank penetration in village areas of the remote region will help us meet the priority sector requirements, conduct commodity and agriculture finance related business and also garner low-cost deposits,' Tripura Rural Development and Industries and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chowdhury said, adding that under RBI norms, at least 40 of loans were mandated, given to priority sector or agriculture, small scale industries and others.
He, however, pointed out that the Tripura State Cooperative Bank (TSCB) was using biometric cards instead of ATMs to connect banks to their rural customer base and several other nationalised banks following same model in their financial inclusion policy.
After successful implementation of similar projects initiated by the State Bank of India in 2006 in three states - Mizoram, Uttaranchal and Andhra Pradesh- over 2000 workers of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in Tripura had been using biometric smart cards to avail banking facilities in 2010, Mr Chowdhury added.