In July, 2009, a total of 129 un-banked blocks were identified in the country. As a result of the concerted efforts made by the Government, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Banks in providing banking facilities in the un-banked blocks, the number of such blocks has come down to 93 in February, 2010. Low population density, inhospitable terrain, law and order problems and non-availability of the basic infrastructure have been indicated as the main impediments in providing banking facilities in these areas. The Government is monitoring the progress made in this regard on an ongoing basis.
To reach the benefits of banking services to the hinterland it has been proposed to provide appropriate banking facilities to habitations having population in excess of 2000 by March, 2012. These services will be provided by Banks using the Business Correspondent Model and other models with appropriate technology back-up, to cover around 60,000 habitations.
To extend the reach of banking to rural areas having a low penetration of bank branches, the RBI has liberalized the policy of branch licensing and permitted domestic scheduled commercial banks (other than Regional Rural Banks) to open branches in Tier 3 to Tier 6 centres (with population upto 49,999 as per Census 2001) without having the need to take permission from RBI in each case. The detailed RBI circular is available at its website www.rbi.org.in.
During the current financial year, the State Bank of India (SBI), the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) Convenor for Uttarakhand has reported that it has already opened 16 new branches and has received approval for opening another 18 new branches in Uttarakhand. As per the branch expansion programme of the Regional Rural Banks in Uttarakhand, the Uttaranchal Gramin Bank is to open 24 branches and the Nainital Almora Kshetriya Gramin Bank is to open 4 branches in the next two years in the State of Uttarakhand.