Jamshedpur, Sept. 3: Public sector banks are eager to open branches in Saranda, encouraged by the funds pumped into development projects initiated by the Centre after the former Maoist stronghold was reclaimed by joint forces last year.
Nodal officer of Saranda Development Plan S.R. Natesh told The Telegraph the management of State Bank of India (SBI) and Canara Bank had written to him, expressing interest to set up branches.
In the letters, both banks have mentioned that although Saranda was an unwelcome zone for them earlier, they are interested in setting up branches there in view of a slew of development work, he said.
Natesh pointed out that banking activity was negligible in Saranda.
The sal reserve is home to over 40,000 people in 56 villages across 800sqkm, but has only two branches one of Bank of India at the Chiria mines area and another of Jharkhand Gramin Bank at Manoharpur. An SBI branch is located in Jeraikela, close to the border with Odisha.
Under the Rs 248-crore Saranda Development Plan, a brainchild of Union minister Jairam Ramesh, construction of roads, Indira Awas Yojana, watershed projects and job-oriented skilled training facility are being taken up. The administration has to make payments under several schemes to over 7,000 beneficiaries, who have to open bank accounts for transfer of money.
The absence of enough banks had been a hurdle in initiating development works in the past.
Natesh, who is also the divisional forest officer (DFO) of Chaibasa South, explained that the banks had approached him in order to work out the logistics of setting up branches in a dense forest area. He has assured to extend full co-operation to both banks.
DFO of Saranda K.K. Tiwary also agreed that the shortage of banks had held back development projects in Saranda until recently, but there was enough room for commercial banks to set up branches now.
Tiwary said various commercial banks were urging local residents to open accounts.
A number of commercial banks is carrying out door-to-door campaigns for motivating local residents to open accounts. But very soon a few banks, including SBI and Canara Bank, will be setting up branches in Saranda, he added.