State to cash in on SHGs

Panchayat Raj Department decides to make all revenue transactions and financial operations of SHGs digital from January 20.

By Author   |   Published: 19th Jan 2017   11:24 pm

Hyderabad: Taking a cue from the success story of Ibrahimpur village in Siddipet constituency turning into cashless economy with the involvement of Self Help Groups (SHGs), the State government has decided to replicate the model in other villages to transform them into a digital economy.

A recent Central Information and Communication Ministry report on States adopting e-transactions had placed Telangana on the top followed by Gujarat and Kerala.

For starters, the Panchayat Raj Department has decided to make all village panchayat revenue transactions and financial operations of SHGs digital from January 20. The department also roped in bankers to help in the process of going cashless, asking them to adopt 5,000 villages to facilitate opening of new accounts and to activate defunct accounts at the earliest.

There are 5,372 clusters and 8,000 gram panchayats in the State. Besides these, another 1,200 villages would be added to the list with the conversion of thandas into panchayats. The State government has successfully computerised village panchayats and interlinked 29 crucial departments with the GPs last year.

Panchayat Raj Minister Jupally Krishna Rao told Telangana Today that the department has decided to utilise the services of 4.22 lakh SHGs which has a total membership of 50 lakh, to educate villagers on cashless dealings.

“Almost 90 per cent of villagers are members of one or other SHGs, and if the mission is handed over to them, Telangana will become a cashless transaction State within a short period,” the Minister said.

Rao said the government had already begun educating villagers on e-transactions in a big way, including use of POS machines, identifying persons who don’t hold bank accounts, and after opening accounts, start ward-wise awareness campaign with the help of SHGs and bank mitras.

According to preliminary estimates of the Rural Development Department, 93-96 per cent villagers have bank accounts with the State bagging second position in opening of Pradhan Mantri Jana Dhan Accounts in the country.

Some 83.24 lakh households covered under the scheme. “This is a clear indicator that villagers do have basic understanding of bank functioning, and now with the help of SHGs and bank mitras, we are trying educate them on use of credit/debit/RuPay cards mobile and net banking,” said GVS Reddy Director for Srinidhi bank.

Stating that it was not a Hercules task given the villagers’ basic understanding, Reddy said they, however, need guidance. “We are sending Point of Sale (POS) machines to all GPs, and the villagers are educated at the GPs itself to pay taxes with the help of ATM/RuPay cards,” he said, adding that later, they would also hold special camps to bring about awareness on mobile and net banking.

Panchayath Raj Department in collaboration with the Finance Department has sent a request letter to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for extending services to villages through the POS machines. The government has also asked the ECIL to arrange POS machines within a fortnight to be sent to all villages in the State.