Bank rescues village from money lenders


Bank rescues village from money lenders

K Ranganath | TNN

Tavarekere (Kolar dist): This village in Mulbagal taluk, a stone’s throw away from Andhra Pradesh, was once mired in debt, thanks to exorbitant interest rates charged by private money lenders. Today, it’s money-lender free, thanks to the sincere efforts of Mandikal branch of Pragathi Gramina Bank.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram had dreamt of making villages across the country money-lender free. The Pragathi Gramina Bank, in tune with his wishes, has already taken up steps in this direction. Tavarekere is the second village to be declared free of money lenders.

The villagers, mostly labourers with one-third belonging to scheduled castes, were getting financial assistance from private money lenders in Andhra Pradesh. At least three financial firms, which claim to have been registered under RBI, would lend money and charge high interest. The recovery agents of Ammamma Bank, Future Financial Services and SKS Financiers, who claim to have registered offices in Chittor and other places, would visit the villages on a weekly basis to recover loan instalments. On an average, they’d recover over a lakh of rupees every fortnight.

When T Papanna, manager, Mandikal branch visited the village, he was horrified by the exorbitant rate of interest charged by them. To free the villagers from their clutches, he advised them to borrow from Gramina Bank.

A majority of them were on the black list of various banks. Papanna persuaded them to repay outstanding loans with concessions for one-time settlement. Later, he began financing villagers depending upon their needs. With better prospects for dairy activity there, the bank funded the purchase of 56 cross-breed cows, besides providing aid for other activities including business, piggery, poultry and other activities.

Shobha, a member of a women’s self-help group, said that she is happy to deal with the bank as the interest rate is affordable, and bankers don’t harass them for recovery unlike private money lenders. Narayanamma, who had no source of income a couple of years ago, is now a proud owner of six cross-breed cows and three calves.

The local Milk Producers Cooperative Society has joined hands with the bank authorities for recovering loans. Result: the branch’s overall recovery position is a stunning 98%.

Shankarappa who was earning Rs 2,000 per month as a driver, now owns a sericulture farm after obtaining aid from the bank. Shankarappa owned five acres of land but couldn’t make adequate use of it owing to lack of funds.

The bank’s financial assistance has worked wonders. Now, in addition to the sericulture farm, he owns cattle. He has sent his son to study BBM at Kolar. He managed to achieve all this within a span of a year.

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