Kolkata– Despite repeated appeals from the state government, continued reluctance of the nationalised banks in extending their services to remote areas has hampered rural development in West Bengal, a state minister said here on Saturday.

Speaking at a conference on self-help group (SHG)-bank credit linkage, Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee also exuded confidence of the state achieving a credit deployment of Rs 4,000 crore to SHGs under the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM) in 2016-17.

“The nationalised banks have been reluctant in extending services in rural areas. Because of this, in many of the cases, we are compelled to deliver the benefits in cash which compromises transparency.

“Despite repeated appeals including from the Chief Minister, the nationalised banks for some inexplicable reason have not extended the cooperation that is desired from them,” Mukherjee told mediapersons.

Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has been repeatedly slamming the Centre for its financial non-cooperation, claiming that funds for many central schemes were either stopped or the state’s responsibilities increased.

Mukherjee, however, refused to comment on the reason for lack of cooperation on part of the nationalised banks.

“I can’t say the reason. I don’t know if that has something to do with the Centre. Bengal has been making rapid progress in rural development, but that has been hampered to certain extent because of the banks’ lack of cooperation,” said Mukherjee.

However, the minister praised the banks’ role under the rural livelihood mission.

“The scenario is better in case of NRLM, where the nationalised banks have extended cooperation. In 2015-16, credit linkage to the tune Rs 2,012 crore was extended to self-help groups (SHGs) elevating Bengal to being the fifth largest state in the country in terms of total credit linkage.

“This year, the target for credit linkage has been pegged at Rs 3262.88 crore. If the banks meticulously extend finance to around two lakh SHGs in accordance of the State Level Bankers’ Committee guidelines, credit deployment of Rs 4,000 crore is a distinct possibility,” added Mukherjee. (IANS)