Mumbai: State Bank of India Ltd will be adopting around 500 villages through gram panchayats under its corporate social responsibility programme—Gram Seva. The leading public sector lender will be allocating around Rs240 crore over the next three years for the initiative, the top management of the bank said.

SBI Foundation, the CSR division of SBI will be partnering with non-government organisations (NGOs) for integrated development of the villages. “SBI has adopted villages in the past but there was no focus on holistic development or sustainability. The projects were left to the branch managers and after we exited, the villages slipped back. But Gram Seva changes this," said SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya.

She said that the foundation will be working in cooperation with the local administration and non-government organisations for development activities like education, sanitation, digital empowerment and bringing the villages under government schemes among others.

“Our job is to offer banking services. Therefore, we shall only be looking to fill the gaps in the village infrastructure in cooperation with NGOs. We will be using Human Development Index as an indicator to measure development of villages of the next 3 years," Bhattacharya said.

The bank has started a pilot in 10 gram panchayats across six villages—Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand Bihar and Assam. “We are looking to develop a replicable, scalable and sustainable model of development for villages," said Bhattacharya.

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