Shimla, July 25 (IANS) People in Himachal Pradesh still have to trudge around five km in rugged, cold and inhospitable Himalayan terrain before they can avail of banking facility.
This fact came to light in a charter of demands submitted by Mandi MP Pratibha Singh to union Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena in New Delhi.
A request was made to open more branches in the state, particularly in the backward, tribal and difficult areas, so as to cover entire population with banking facilities, an official statement quoting the MP said Thursday.
Pratibha Singh apprised the union minister with the fact that the bank customers in landlocked valleys like Pangi in Chamba district and Dodra Kwar in Shimla district and entire Lahaul-Spiti district have to walk some five km to avail of banking facilities.
She requested him to open extension counters and ATMs of banks in those areas to ensure success of the central government's Direct Cash Transfer scheme.
For Kinnaur district, which was recently ravaged by torrential rains, Pratibha Singh demanded that nationalised insurance agencies should be directed to expedite the claims made in natural disaster and relax rules on the pattern of Uttarakhand, which was also hit by flashfloods last month.
Official sources said the state proposes opening about 800 more bank branches by 2016, mostly in the rural areas, under a comprehensive financial-inclusion plan.
Speaking at the state-level meeting of bankers convened by UCO Bank here July 15, Chief Secretary Sudripta Roy said 31 new branches were opened during the last quarter till March 2013, and of these 25 were located in rural areas.
At present, the state has a network of 1,666 bank branches and 861 ATMs.