Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said two years form now no Gram Panchayat would be there in the state without banking service and welcomed all nationalised banks to come forward and open branches in the villages to boost rural economy.
Launching 50 branches and 20 ATMs of the United Bank of India (UBI) at a function at the state Secretariat, Banerjee said out of 32,090 Gram Panchayats in the state, 938 GPs had no branches of any bank which was a matter of concern for people residing there.
Responding to the state government`s appeal, the UBI has come forward and taken initiative as a lead bank in the state to provide rural banking, she said.
The rest GPs, where there is no branch of any bank till now, would have branches of the UBI in phases within two years, she said while describing it as a "pilot project".
Welcoming to open their branches in Panchayat areas, Banerjee offered willing banks adequate space and other infrastructure in panchayat offices at the cost of a token Re one only.
"The banks will not have to spend anything for space and infrastructure, we need their services to benefit the villagers," she said.
The 50 branches across 17 districts which were launched today, have already enrolled 1,000 accounts each on average and have secured a total deposit of Rs 6 crore so far, Banerjee said.
Speaking on the occasion, UBI CMD Archana Bhargava said her bank has a target to open 4,123 branches all over the state in next few years and today`s initiative was part of the move with cooperation of the state government.
Besides Bhargava, who is also chairperson of the State Level Bankers` Committee (SLBC), senior officials of NABARD, state Finance minister Amit Mitra and officials of his department were present on the occasion.