Poor start for Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana in Manipur
The Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana to provide banking facilities to every household got off to a poor start in Manipur on Thursday. While over 1.50 crore persons opened accounts in the country, just a handful persons did so in Manipur. The high profile scheme was launched in Imphal by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh. A government official said mega camps will be opened in all the 9 districts to facilitate opening of bank accounts.
There is a widespread view that the scheme will not be successful in the insurgency-afflicted State. Talking to The Hindu, highly placed sources said a majority of banks cannot conduct cash transactions. Ever since insurgents resorted to bank heists and pseudo insurgents started demanding illegal taxes and hefty loans from banks, cash transactions have been stopped.
Besides, most of officials do not want to get posted in Manipur for their own security.
There are 158 bank branches in Manipur. Of late, ATM booths had been opened and reports say that there are 199 such booths in the State.
For decades, Ministers have been saying that developmental and self-employment schemes failed to take off since the banks which had stopped cash transactions could not help the beneficiaries.
The government says that armed security personnel cannot be deployed in banks located in far-flung access places. The explanation is that in case of heists additional forces cannot be rushed there quickly.
The government admits that at least 27 block headquarters in the tribal areas do not have bank facilities. Pensioners stand long hours in serpentine queues at banks to get their money every month. Many of them are unlettered and cannot transact bank business. Several persons are not accustomed to ATM operations. There have been reports of sleazy elements cheating persons who do not know how to withdraw money from ATM booths.
Following dismantling of some booths for looting cash each booth is now guarded. Besides some banks in and around Imphal and district headquarters operate only when there are armed guards from the State government. These banks are closed if some dignitaries visit the State as services of the armed personnel are needed for security purpose.