Guwahati, Jan. 12: Assam Gramin Vikash Bank has inked an MoU with the state panchayat and rural development department for payment of wages for MGNREGA, the rural job guarantee scheme, through electronic benefit transfer mode to job card holders in 12 districts of the state.
The bank will engage banking correspondents, equipped with biometric devices, in villages to help job card holders transfer payments to their bank accounts and receive payments. Earlier, a job card holder had to go to a bank for these services.
The bank’s chairman Shio Shankar Singh today said they have already set up customer service points at 744 villages which do not have banks and established 45 ultra-small branches to ensure that people get wages in the villages and to prevent irregularities. “It will be similar to the Centre’s direct benefit transfer initiative. In Assam, wages of job card holders under MGNREGA will be through bank accounts,” he said.
The 12 districts where the bank will implement the scheme are Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Sonitpur, Dhemaji, Morigaon, Golaghat, Hailakandi, Baksa, Sivasagar and Udalguri. Of the other 15 districts, in 11 the wage transfers will be done by the State Bank of India and in four by Central Bank of India, government sources said.
The bank’s chief manager (planning and development), Ramkrishna Sarma, said direct transfer of wages to the job card holders would help them to get payment in their villages and will check irregularities. “With this, only a genuine job card holder will get the money as we will take his/her finger prints before issuing the biometric card. We will help a card holder to open an account in our bank for transfer of wages and if he/she possess an account in another bank and is not willing to switch over, his/her payment will be transferred to the particular account.”
“The direct transfer of MGNREGA wages is an initiative of the Assam government and it has been done keeping in mind the irregularities in the process of disbursing the money to the job card holder,” a source said.
Singh said as part of the bank’s initiative to improve its functioning, it would offer ATM facilities from March.
“Our customers will be able to avail of ATM benefits of the United Bank of India till we start our own,” he added.