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Welfare scheme launched

- Mukul claims to be brain behind Jan Dhan idea

Shillong, Aug. 28: Did the NDA government choose a Meghalaya model for financial inclusion for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana?

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi rose to speak at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi today during the nationwide launch of the scheme, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma had already told a gathering at Shillong Club that he was “more happy” because the Centre had “picked up” from a financial inclusion scheme launched by his government in 2012 to design the scheme for people’s wealth.

“I am more happy because this whole design that we launched in 2012 has been picked up by the government of India,” Sangma said while addressing a gathering to launch the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.

The programme that Sangma referred to is the Women’s Economic Empowerment through Financial Inclusion scheme.

Launched on Meghalaya Day in 2012, it was meant to target four lakh families within the next five years. Under the scheme, every woman head of a family would be provided with a bank account where seed money of Rs 5,000 would be deposited.

Till now the government has been able to mobilise 90,000 women for the scheme, of which seed money has been given to 8,720 women.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, account holders will get a RuPay debit card, Rs 1 lakh accident insurance cover and an additional Rs 30,000 life insurance cover for those opening bank accounts before January 26, 2015.

The account performance would be monitored and overdraft facility would be given.

Sangma also told the gathering that he had also sent a letter to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley indicating “how we have started this programme and how happy we are that the Government of India has been able to pick up this programme and expand it to the whole nation”.

“I should say that we should continue to show the way,” he said, saying that on several occasions the state government had made presentations before the Planning Commission and the Union finance ministry on the scheme.

“We tried to make them realise how important such programmes would be if we have to ensure that each family of the nation has to have access to banking facilities in a much more organised manner,” Sangma claimed.

As part of launching the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, the chief minister also distributed seed money to a few individuals.

Under the Women’s Economic Empowerment through Financial Inclusion scheme, the “partners” would first be “mobilised” so that they can understand the nuances of financial and banking facilities, Sangma said. The partners or beneficiaries of the scheme would also be trained to become entrepreneurs.

In keeping with the directives of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, 76 financial literacy camps were held in the past three days wherein around 4,600 “small savings bank accounts” for unbanked people from rural, semi-urban and urban areas were opened with liberalised KYC (know you customer) requirements.

According to SBI general manager Pannalal Das, Meghalaya has 538,299 households, and 482 sub-service areas are required to cover these households. All these households would be covered in a phased manner by 2018, he added.

Garo hills launch: The scheme was today launched across five districts of Garo hills. A programme was held in Tura in the conference hall of the district rural development agency. It was attended by deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills Pravin Bakshi and assistant general manager of SBI (Garo hills division), Nixon Joseph, among others.

Bakshi said under the scheme, a major thrust would be given to households. “All banks have set their targets and will complete their process within a record period,” he added. He appealed to villagers to get the benefits of the scheme by opening an account.

Joseph said the SBI, which has the maximum reach in Garo hills, would ensure that the process is implemented in right earnest. The SBI has 41 branches in the five districts of Garo hills, but because of law and order situation only 20 branches are functioning.