The first day of the disbursal of cash aid through the PM Garib KalyanYojana went off smoothly as banks followed strict social distancing norms. On Thursday, an amount of ₹500 was credited to women accountholders of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
Mint spoke to four bankers from four regions of the country – North India, South India, Eastern India and Western India.
Bankers said that two things worked in their favour and helped lessen the load at branches at a time when the direct benefit transfers (DBT) have started flowing in.
First, most of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts getting ₹500 from Friday are serviced by business correspondent (BC) outlets in villages. Second, the decision to divide accounts into five sets based on the account numbers and mapped against five dates between 3-9 April has helped thin the crowd.
According to a banker from erstwhile United Bank of India, now part of Punjab National Bank, on day one, there were no reports of overcrowding from branches in West Bengal as more than half of the accounts are serviced by BCs.
“For instance, in West Midnapore district, around 78,000 accounts were eligible to withdraw money on Friday. Of this, 72,000 accounts that received money use business correspondent outlets instead of branches," said the banker from PNB cited above. The district, he said, has close to 600 BC points that service 120 customers on average.
A banker from Canara Bank working Bangalore Rural district also said that business corrrespondents are taking care of a large chunk of these withdrawals. The district has about 212 branches, 3.18 lakh PMJDY account holders and close to half of these belong to women who would get ₹500 per month under the government’s relief package.
“BCs are visiting households and delivering services at the doorstep. Moreover, there are other customer service points which customers can use to withdraw money without visiting branches," said the banker from Canara Bank.
Bankers also say that the awareness campaigns through different social media, radio and television have also helped disseminate information faster and wider.
A banker from Central bank of India said that queues were not that long, thanks to the staggered disbursal of loans. “In some pockets of Delhi and Hyderabad, we witnessed a larger crowd as there are more accounts in these branches. Also customers coming to withdraw pension and salary also added to the rush. With the help of police, we ensured that social distancing is maintained," he said.
Some other banks like Bank of Baroda had already taken precautions even before the disbursals started. This included incentivising BCs by giving extra cash to buy sanitiser, masks etc and also to ensure that outlets are kept clear. For BoB, nearly 50 lakh accounts of the two merged banks and Regional Rural banks, saw disbursements on day 1.
“Lot of awareness campaigns have been done which helped us in crowd management. Besides, the district administration and police have also helped. In some places like Rajasthan and Guwahati, the police came on their own to ensure customers keep the queue and use mask," said MV Murali Krishna, Head - Financial Inclusion and CSR, Bank of Baroda.