Hyderabad: A huge task lies ahead for the state government to make Telangana State ready for cashless transactions. According to a household survey conducted by the state government recently, over 88 lakh people still don’t have bank accounts. There is only one bank available for 10 villages in districts.
In many rural areas, people are forced to travel between 30 and 70 kilometres to avail banking services. Banks, too, are not coming forward to extend banking services to rural and interior areas citing security reasons.
Various banks have shifted nearly 75 branches in rural areas to nearby towns claiming threats from Naxalites. Though Naxal activity has been curbed in the state in the last one decade, the rural banks continue to function in urban areas.
For instance, Canara Bank shifted its Tadwai village branch in Waran-gal district to Govindr-aopet mandal headquarters, which is 32 km away, some 20 years ago, citing the Naxal threat. Even today, it continues to function from the same place.
Villagers say they have to set aside a whole day to visit a bank and do the transaction — apart from making unnecessary exp-enditure for travelling. Women self-help groups that deposit Rs 100 per month in savings accounts, say they spend Rs 30 on travel for banking purposes.
On Sunday, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao announced the setting up of a five-member committee comprising senior IAS officers to work out modalities of a policy for cashless e-payment in the state.
The committee will identify suitable digital payment modes for various sectors and ensure that consumers can avail of them at the earliest. It will ensure that these services are utilised by consumers easily by coordinating with banks.
Though the first meeting of the committee is yet to take place, official sources in the finance department said the committee has been asked to identify the infrastructure shortcomings that are acting as a deterrent to digital payments and suggest measures to overcome them.
The committee will devise ways to ensure lower transaction charges for digital payments when compared with what is being charged at present for cash transactions between people and the government.
The committee will prepare an action plan to ensure 80 per cent of total transactions in the state are done in digital payment mode only. It will prescribe a specific timeframe to achieve this goal.
It will also take up awareness programmes on a massive scale across the state to educate people on the need and benefits of digital payments.
"The demonetisation issue has taught us several lessons. Common people, especially in rural areas, remain the worst affected due to lack of banking facilities and ATMs. We need to brace up to face such eventualities in future.
Encouraging digital payments is the better solution to overcome such problems. It will also curb circulation of black money. It is for this reason that the CM appointed a five-member committee, which will devise the road map of transforming Telangana into a cashless transaction state," said Etela Rajender, finance minister....