Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government flagged off the point that the penetration of banking facilities in the State is poor.

Addressing the 157 State Level Banking Committee (SLBC) meeting, here on Saturday, the Odisha finance minister Niranjan Pujhari said that as many as 4,921 gram panchayat in the State do not have formal bank branches. He said the poor banking facilities in rural areas caused road block in rolling out the DBT by the State government as well as the Centre. The minister urged the bankers to open bank branches in unrepresented areas.

The development commissioner, Suresh Mohapatra, said that the bankers should make efforts to open bank branches in Mao infested areas of the State. He urged the State Bank of India to open at least one branch in Malkangiri district.

The State principal secretary, finance, Ashok Meena, said that the Committee constituted to study the problem of opening bank branches in unrepresented areas has recommended that the SLBC would take steps for opening of bank branches in unrepresented gram panchyats.

The finance minister lamented that the bank loan disbursement to agriculture allied sectors like fisheries and diaries is not upto the target. Urging the bankers to strive to meet the target in the sector, the minister said that the bankers should also focus on study loans to help out poor student in pursuing their higher studies.

Odisha Mission Shakti commissioner Sujata Kartikeyan said that the bankers should come forward to support the Self-help Groups(SHGs) with more loans.

Special secretary to government of India Debasish Panda said that the SHGs should come forward to act as business representatives of banks. He suggested that the Asha Karmis and the Anganwadi Karmis should be engaged in social security and insurance schemes launched the governments.

Panda directed the bankers to take up the matter of ATM and Cash Van security problems withe the State home department.

RBI regional director MK Malla, Nabard CGM A Chandrasekher, UCO Bank CEO & MD AK Goyal and State Institute of Finance director Pradip Biswal were present.