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regular-article-logo Monday, 17 June 2024

Unions, civil society forums call on Mamata Banerjee as PSU banks shift branches from Bengal

'It appears to us that the proposed move is inimical to Bengal. In the name of re-organisation, the bank has embarked into a scheme which in effect will strengthen NE States HQ at Guwahati, Assam at the cost of Kolkata Zone, West Bengal,' said Bank of Baroda Employees’ Union president Rajen Nagar

A Staff Reporter Calcutta Published 20.03.24, 11:07 AM
Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee File picture

Bank unions and civil society forums have flagged off the shrinking presence of public sector banks in Bengal with chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

With no growth in brick-and-mortar branches in the last three years, public sector banks are looking to reorganise and consolidate their operations, including shifting some of it beyond the state.

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In a letter to the chief minister, Bank of Baroda Employees’ Union stated the public sector bank has decided to bifurcate its Calcutta zone operations.

The bank has reduced the branches under the administrative control of the Calcutta zone to 251 from 431, while taking out the remaining 180 branches including those in the nine districts of Bengal and bringing them under the North East States zone, with headquarters in Guwahati.

The nine districts are Murshidabad, Malda, Dakshin Dinajpur, Uttar Dinajpur, Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Kalimpong and Darjeeling, covering a large part of North Bengal.

As a result, the business of the Calcutta zone will come down to Rs 50,443 crore from
from Rs 74,127 crore.

“It appears to us that the proposed move is inimical to Bengal. In the name of re-organisation, the bank has embarked into a scheme which in effect will strengthen NE States HQ at Guwahati, Assam at the cost of Kolkata Zone, West Bengal,” said Bank of Baroda Employees’ Union president Rajen Nagar.

“Such bifurcation will also adversely affect the employees in the matter of transfer/posting/assignment of special pay posts etc,” he said.

Bank Bachao Desh Bachao Manch, a civil society forum, said in a letter to the Bengal chief minister that SBI is planning to shift a major part of its forex operations from their Global Market Unit located in the city to Mumbai. The Global Market Unit, previously known as Foreign Department Kolkata, has been present in the city since its inception. SBI had earlier closed down the Central Accounts Office based in Calcutta and shifted the registered office of the bank from Calcutta to Mumbai in 2018.

“We are of the considered opinion that the present ruling dispensation is deliberately trying to derail the economic progress of the state of West Bengal systematically. The merger of 2 headquartered PSU Banks — United Bank of India and Allahabad Bank in West Bengal bears testimony to this,” said joint convenors Biswaranjan Ray and Soumya Datta.

Data from the State Level Bankers Committee shows a declining trend in the number of brick-and-mortar branches of public sector banks in the state. From 5,422 in 2020-21, the number fell to 5,350 in 2021-22 and 5,258 in 2022-23.

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