Bhubaneswar, March 27:

The Odisha government on Monday signed an agreement with the State Bank of India (SBI) to provide banking services through Self Help Groups (SHGs).

Odisha has become the first state to facilitate financial inclusion and extend banking services in unbanked areas through SHGs formed under Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM), said an official.

The agreement was signed between OLM and SBI in the presence of Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi and Managing Director (National Banking Group) of SBI Rajnish Kumar.

“Around 70 per cent of the gram panchayats (GPs) in Odisha do not have brick and mortar bank branches. Carrying the banking services to people in these remote areas has always been a concern of the government. This agreement would go a long way in extending basic banking services to people in those areas,” said Padhi.

Panchayati Raj Secretary Deo Ranjan Kumar Singh said that OLM would function as the corporate agent and around three lakh SHGs operating under OLM would be the Banking Correspondents (BC).

In the first phase, SHGs would be engaged as BCs in around 1,000 remote GPs in scheduled areas having no banking facilities.

Gradually, it would be extended to 4,000 non-banking GPs and later, it would be extended to the entire state as a supplement to the banking service, he added.

Speaking about the agreement, the SBI MD said, “This is a historic agreement to leverage reach and resources of OLM to provide banking facilities to people in unbanked areas. Odisha is a pioneer state in carrying forward the financial inclusion through close cooperation between SHGs and banks.”

He hoped that such collaboration would have greater positive impact on Aadhar seeding of bank accounts.

Prasanna Kumar Behera, Chief Manager of SBI, said people would get the services like opening of bank accounts, opening of recurring/fixed accounts, cash deposits, cash withdrawals, cash remittances, Aadhar enabled payment, use of Rupay card and Aadhar seeding of accounts for DBT. (IANS)