To help its agenda of financial inclusion, the Government has asked banks to expedite the process of setting up automated teller machines (ATMs) in rural areas.

Snehlata Srivastava, Additional Secretary, Department of Financial Services, said, “In order to provide infrastructure for withdrawal of money, banks have been advised to provide an onsite ATM in all the branches across the country by March 2014. The progress, so far, by banks is not satisfactory.”

She said out of the 34,668 on-site ATMs identified to be installed by public sector banks, only 5,726 ATMs have been installed till August.

“I request all the banks to provide this facility in the rural areas and the areas which need this kind of a facility,” she added. Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India, said that till date Aadhaar numbers of three crore Indians have been linked to their respective bank accounts.

“In a year’s time, we expect 10 crore Aadhaar numbers will be linked to the bank account,” he said. Possession of an Aadhaar number dramatically improves the convenience in life of the customers, he added.

His comments come against the backdrop of the Supreme Court telling the government that it cannot link subsidies and benefits only to Aadhaar. A final review on this is pending with the apex court, which will hear the matter on October 22.

Even though getting an Aadhaar number is voluntary, gas supplying companies such as Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum and IndianOil have been insisting on Aadhaar numbers if customers wish to get their quota of subsidised cylinders.

When pointed out that a significant number of people are not able to get their Aadhaar card because of poor quality or not so-pronounced finger prints, Nilekani said, the UIDAI’s objective to give Aadhaar to every Indian.

satyanarayan.iyer@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 9, 2013)
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