To ensure that social distancing is maintained at the bank branches, the department of financial services, under the finance ministry, has issued guidelines to all banks to ensure that customers are asked to come on different days, depending on their account numbers. For instance, account numbers ending with 0 or 1 will be asked to report to their banks on Friday, those with 1 or 2 on Saturday, 3 or 4 on Monday and so on. A text message will be sent to customers to inform them about the arrangement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also told the chief ministers of the States in a video conference on Thursday to “ensure staggered release of funds to the beneficiaries under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana to avoid crowding at banks.”
The women beneficiaries will receive Rs 500 per month for the next three months, in order to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The move was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26 who said that this will help women “run their household during this difficult period”. The Centre will spend about Rs 31,000 crore towards the cash transfer.
However, soon after the announcement, many beneficiaries had rushed to the bank branches in the hope that the cash transfer has already taken place thereby crowding up at the banks. On March 30, the finance ministry had to issue a statement requesting bank customers to not line up at the branches as the date and time of the transfer will be notified to them.
“In order to maintain social distancing and orderly withdrawal of money for beneficiaries, it would be appropriate to stagger the arrival of account-holders at branches, banking correspondents and ATMs for withdrawal of the money,” the communiqué said.
The banks have been told to publicise the fact that the beneficiaries can withdraw the money any time when required and not necessarily when it’s credited. “If the beneficiary needs to draw the money immediately, she may approach the bank branch or banking correspondent as per the schedule,” the ministry said.
Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to the chief secretaries of all the States on Thursday asking them to deploy police personnel to maintain law and order situation at the banks. The bank branches will be allowed to function till the time “disbursal of money is complete.”