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99% Bank Branches Functional, All ATMs To Be Functional By End Of This Week

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Bhubaneswar: In the aftermath of the severe cyclonic storm FANI and as both banking and telecom services have been hit hard, both the State Government and the Central Government are on their efforts to bring back normalcy.

Accordingly, an important meeting was held here today with the bankers, insurance and telecom companies by Debasish Panda, Additional Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance (MoF), Government of India (GoI) in the Conference Hall of Odisha State Guest House (Ground Floor).

Soon after the significant meeting, the MoF DFS Additional Secretary told media, “We have done a detailed review with the State Government. All the bankers were also present at the meeting here. Since day one of the cyclone, review is going on both at the levels of State and Central Governments.”

He informed, “All the banks had been directed to immediately restore banking services. But, as all of you know, connectivity and power outage hindered the process. Still the banks delivered services using generators and VSAT. Midway an arrangement was made that minus connectivity, services can be delivered on offline mode.”

“Today’s situation is that 99% of the bank branches are functioning. Those bank buildings sustained damage will take time, but now 99% are functioning. So far ATM is concerned, there is problem in Puri, Khurda and Cuttack because of connectivity and as the VSATs got blown away. But in some of the districts, it is 90% functional. In two districts 80%. In Puri and Khurda districts it less for which alternative arrangements are being made and hope that by end of this week, almost 90% will become functional. More or less, it is normal banking,” Panda claimed.

He added, “As far as insurance is concerned, all the companies and their regulator IRDA have already rendered relaxation. For instance, relaxation has been made in submission of the requisite documents as per the norms. Process can be done without the documents and payment will be made. 1800 claims have been received for loss of property. Public Sector Companies have already conducted survey on a fast track. As there are inadequate surveyors, they were outsourced from Andhra, Telangana and all the neighbouring states. Survey is complete. Now the insured as well as cyclone affected have to properly file their respective claims citing the losses suffered.”

He also added, “Instructions have been issued to the insurance companies by me today that they should volunteer to reach the insured so that they submit soon their claims in proper format so that they are settled soon.”

“All the public sector companies are ready. They are also ready for the farmers. In this agriculture sector, one public sector company is working in one cluster while other three private sector companies are working in other clusters. Now the State Government in consultation with the District Collectors have to submit the crop loss estimation. The day the respective District Collectors will notify, the payment will be made immediately,” stated the MoF DFS Additional Secretary.

In his media reactions, Odisha Finance Secretary Ashok Meena said, “The Additional Secretary from Government of India Shri Debashish Panda today held a meeting with the banks, insurance companies and telephone operators so that the banking services and ATMs become functional.”

He mentioned, “As he briefed the media, normalcy has started being restored everywhere except Puri. 27-28% of ATMs in Puri are functional. Hope all other ATMs will also start functioning with the restoration of power supply and telecom services. As the VSAT of some ATMs have blown away, efforts are on to fix them with new ones.”

“Besides, another major discussion done today is that of restructuring the loans taken by the loanees. It has been decided to apply the Kerala model here in Odisha. Today there will be a meeting of SLBCs at the State Secretariat and the recommendation made their will be sent to the RBI and Government of India. It will help us in restructuring and availing of loan at less interest rate,” stated the Odisha Finance Secretary.  

Praveen Kala, CGM, SBI, Bhubaneswar Circle said, “We could allow moratorium for one year. EMI can also be re-fixed. Whatever is possible will be done by us. We have been proceeding on making our branches and ATMs functional. More important is bringing back our economy on rail. Hence, we have to finance otherwise economy can’t be restored.”

So far the farm loan is concerned, she said, “Rabi season account is overdue now. Restructuring or renewal of overdue accounts isn’t permissible as per the circular. Already Government has declared to bear the interest against the loan of Rs 1 lakh. It is a welcome step. We are ready to join hands with the people of State and move ahead. Those who wish for the restructuring and for other needs, let them come to the bank and apply.”

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Debasish Panda, Addl Secretary, DFS, MoF, Govt of India

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Ashok Meena, Secretary, Finance, Odisha

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Praveen Kala, CGM, SBI, Bhubaneswar Circle