In a much-needed relief to the beleaguered District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs), the currency chests have finally started releasing cash to the banks to allow them to disburse crop loans to the rural masses. Dr M L Sukhdeve, chairman, board of administrators of the Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank, said of the Rs 620 crore — to be disbursed by the DCCBs as crop loan till December 31 — around Rs 250 crore has been given by the lead banks till date. The Centre’s demonetisation move had hit the DCCBs the most, given the strict restrictions imposed on them by the RBI. The RBI had debarred them not just from exchanging withdrawn currency notes but also accepting such notes as deposits. While the commercial banks had been given new currency to dispense to the customers, the DCCBs, along with other cooperative banks, had complained of a stepmotherly treatment by the currency chest banks.
While the DCCBs only dispense a little over 30 per cent of the state’s outlay in crop loans (both Kharif and Rabi) their extensive rural branches make them the most accessible financial institution for the rural masses.
In Maharashtra, the DCCBs have more than 2,900 rural branches, as against the 2,300 or so branches of commercial banks. The issue of cash crunch at the DCCBs had been brought up at various levels. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had taken up the issue with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Last week, the RBI had issued two circulars mandating the currency chest banks to provide cash to DCCBs for disbursement of crop loans. Sukhdeve said since the circular, the currency chests had issued cash to DCCBs in several districts.