Bhopal, Jan 1: Efforts to connect the poorest of the poor with banks are underway throughout the country so that the number of subsidies provided by the government can go directly to their bank accounts. However, it is surprising that 4,837 branches of several banks have been closed in the last two financial years.
These bank branches have either been completely shut down or have been merged with another bank branch.
Chandrashekhar Gaur, a Right to Information (RTI) activist from Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district, had sought information from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as to how many public banks had been closed in the last two financial years of 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The details given by the RBI, while replying to Gaur are surprising.
It stated that 4,837 bank branches were either merged or closed in the last two financial years.
Details of the closed and merged branches of Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Canara Bank, Central Bank of India, Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab and Sind Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India, UCO Bank, Union Bank of India were provided.
According to RBI, a total of 2,271 bank branches were closed in 2020-21, out of which 86 were completely shut, while 2,185 branches were adjusted to another branch.
In the same period, 27 branches were closed in metropolitan areas, 24 in rural, 22 in semi-urban and 13 in urban areas.
At the same time, 721 branches in metropolitan, 147 in rural, 696 in semi-urban, in rural areas and 621 branches in urban areas have been accommodated in another branch.
In 2021-2022, nine branches were completely shut, while 2,557 were merged.
Out of the total 2,566 bank branches, five in metropolitan, two in rural, two in urban areas have been completely closed while 736 in metropolitan, 155 in rural, 947 in semi-urban and 719 in urban areas have been adjusted.
According to the RBI, rural branches are the ones with a population of less than 10,000, semi-urban with a population of more than 10,000 and less than one lakh, and urban with a population of more than one lakh and less than 10 lakh.
A metropolitan city branch is one that has a population of more than 10 lakh, based on the 2011 census.