RBI had an emergency meeting of banks operating in the state to discuss and assess the impact of the devastating floods in the State, particularly in the Kashmir valley. The discussions were focused on how quickly the situation could be improved so that the affected people get access to basic banking facilities and services at the earliest.
The meeting, according to RBI was attended by the representatives of J & K Bank Ltd., State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, HDFC Bank Ltd., ICICI Bank Ltd., Axis Bank, J&K Grameen Bank, Ellaquai Dehati Bank and some other banks having presence in the Kashmir valley. It was informed by the banks that the situation in Jammu and Ladakh was practically normal. However, in the Kashmir Division, out of 739 branches of these banks, 456 were functional and 377 ATMs out of a total of 896, were operational as on date.
The major bottlenecks in restoring normal banking facilities and services were found to be i) Large areas, especially in Srinagar city, continued to be water logged, ii) Problems arising out of non-availability/restoration of telecom connectivity, iii) Staff issues as the local staff and their houses etc. are badly affected and non-local staff have shifted to safer places and contact could not be established with many of them on account of connectivity issues, iv) Non-availability of diesel, petrol and deficient transport services as of now.
It was decided that branches in the water logged areas would be made functional by shifting their operations to the closest functional branches. Notices would be put up at the affected branches to this effect. The
Currency Chest branches were advised to provide cash, if required, by any bank in the vicinity, even if, it was not linked to them for the purpose. It was decided to meet Chief General Manager, BSNL at the earliest to address the connectivity issues. Meanwhile, banks were also advised to use V-Sat facility, wherever possible. It was decided to focus efforts at this point of time to ensuring availability of cash/currency to the people to meet their immediate needs.
Regional Director, Reserve Bank of India stated that RBI had already taken action relating to providing currency in the affected areas by sending fresh remittances to Kashmir. There was sufficient stock, as of now, to cater to the currency requirements of the public. He advised the banks to be guided by the instructions contained in the RBI Master Circular on ‘Relief measures by banks in areas affected by natural calamities’.
The convener of the SLBC for the State, i.e., J&K Bank Ltd. was also advised to take necessary steps, in consultation with the State Government, to hold a special SLBC at the earliest.