DHUBRI, Dec 25 - At a time when the government is encouraging cashless transactions, most of the rural areas of Dhubri district still lack proper banking facilities. This, in turn, has discouraged the concept of digital mode of payment in the district.
In a meeting on the topic, ‘Digital Markets and Challenges in Consumer Protection’, organised by the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Dhubri (FCSCA) on the occasion of National Consumer Rights day, there were complaints by representatives of various consumer, dealers, wholesalers and fair price shop associations on lack of banking services in rural areas of the district.
They complained that without proper banking facilities in rural and char areas of the district, it is impossible to implement digital banking. They were of the opinion that people still have cash in hand and to deposit these cash they have to travel long distances every time.
“Only when these cash will be deposited, the consumers can opt for digital transactions. But if they have to travel long distances and spend an entire day or two to deposit their cash, then how can we hope of a digital India,” said Ramjan Ali, president of Fair Price Shop Association (FPSA), Dhubri. Ali also added that the a large percentage of business in Dhubri district comes from the consumers of South Salmara and Mankachar district, which also lacks bank branches and services. All these reasons are hindering the process of digitalisation of business in the district.
“In fact, the banks that actually cater to the needs of people of remote rural areas of Dhubri district and the neighbouring district are all situated in Dhubri town,” said Ali.
It was also informed that just to deposit their hard-earned money, the consumer sometime has to spend two days as banks work for limited time everyday and boats to these areas are limited. So the consumers have to stay in Dhubri, just to deposit their cash. Apart from these, consumers who bring large amount of cash from villagers of remote areas, remain answerable to BSF and the police, which itself is a kind of harassment.
Speaking on the occasion, Mozibuddin Ahmed, Inspector of FCSCA, admitted that despite government’s notification the fair price shops of the district are yet to install POS machines, while 50% of the wholesalers and supplies have installed such machines for cashless transactions. The Inspector said that the shop owners are reluctant towards the use of such machines due to the transaction charge. “With the use of such machines, the onus of bearing these extra charges is on us”, said Ramjan Ali, who also added, “The fair price shopkeepers sell the subsidised products at the same price they buy. But if they have to bear the transaction charge, why will they encourage such system of payment”.
The Assistant Manager of State Bank of India, Dhubri Mahadeb Sarkar, also attended the meeting.