R LESTER MAKANG
UKHRUL, 21st Jun: Taking strong exception to inordinate delay in relocating the State Bank of India (SBI) branch and staff shortage, four zonal organisations of the district have served an ultimatum to the bank authority for shifting of the branch office and improving manpower within the current month.
Setting the ultimatum in a press statement issued Friday, Tangkhul Zingtun Longphang (West zone), Zingsho Longphang (East zone), Ato Longphang (North zone) and Aze Longphang (South zone) stated that the bank authority is still tarrying the relocation process, though Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had approved shifting of the bank to the district’s Mini Secretariat complex in September last year. The zonal bodies have also demanded the authorities concerned to increase the manpower of the branch as per the number of sanctioned posts.
“If these grievances of the public are not addressed within this current month, then intense forms of agitation will be initiated”, the organisations warned in the statement.
Conveying that they are hugely dismayed by the attitude of the bank authority, the bodies contended that the representatives of SBI, Ukhrul Branch had agreed to shift the branch office within three months after getting approval from RBI for the exercise during a joint meeting held at TNL office last year.
The organisations further questioned as to why the bank authority is maintaining silence on the slow progress of the ongoing renovation works of the rooms inside the Mini Secretariat which will be housing the branch office.
The statement then pointed out that the SBI, Ukhrul branch, C Class, having about 34,000 customers, is functioning with only Branch Manager, two officers and four clerks, as against the sanctioned posts of six officers, one cash officer, one field officer and six clerks.
On August 24 last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued an office memorandum conveying security clearance for shifting of ‘C’ class currency chest of SBI from Somsai to Ukhrul District Mini Secretariat’s complex. Somsai is located about 5 kms from Ukhrul main town areas. Subsequently, the Ministry of Finance forwarded a missive to the RBI, Guwahati intimating the approval of the MHA for the exercise on August 31 the same year. Later in October last year, a proposal for relocation of the branch was submitted to the Ministry through RBI Regional office, Imphal and since then the authority of SBI had been awaiting the go ahead signals from the MHA.
It is learnt that obtaining prior consent from RBI is equally mandatory as the currency chest installed at the branch is operated under its guidelines.
The lone branch of SBI, which is currently located inside the cantonment of 10th Sector Assam Rifles, Somsai, has been operating since 2011. It may be recalled that responding to the public pressure and intervention by the Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL) to open a new branch of the fast growing nationalized bank in the heart of Ukhrul Town to ease banking congestion, officials of SBI had assured to materialize the needs of the public at the earliest.
The public of the township have since been demanding another SBI branch within the town areas or relocation of the existing branch, as customers found the Somsai branch inconvenient.
Subsequently, March of 2014 was set for opening of a new branch office of SBI at the district mini secretariat complex but had to be put off allegedly for want of security arrangements. Last year, the 27 AR at Somsai had also asked the SBI authority to relocate the branch to civil populated areas within the town considering the public inconvenience as well as for security reasons in the aftermath of the Lambui bomb blast which claimed one AR jawan. As such, the public demand for relocation of the branch had already drawn the attention of the district administration, civil organisations and local councillors, apart from the bank authority.