33 branches lying headless, bank facing acute staff shortage

SCARD Bank without Board of Directors for 2 yrs

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Sept 16: The J&K State Cooperative Agriculture & Rural Development (SCARD) Bank is facing severe shortage of staff as its 33 branches are lying headless for the last several years whereas, the Bank’s day today functioning is badly affected as the Government did not bother to appoint Board of Directors since September 2016.
Highly placed sources in the State Cooperatives Department told the Excelsior that for the last two years the SCARD Bank is without Board of Directors and the Bank authorities are not competent to take many important decisions pertaining to its operations. With this, its functioning has been badly hit and this bank which has been basically established for the welfare of the farmers is depriving the farming community of its real benefit.
Sources further revealed there are total 59 branches of this Bank in the State, out of which 33 are with out branch heads. The junior staff is managing the bank branches. Apart from this, 12 posts of Assistant General Managers, four posts of Dy General Managers, six posts of Dy Managers, five posts of District Managers, 31 posts of Executives/ Managers, 29 posts of Accounts Assistants and many others were lying vacant since long.
It is shocking rather, surprising to note that some of the branches like Basohli, Kishtwar, Ramban, Doda, Billawar etc, where sanctioned strength is five or six employees, only one staff member is managing the show from peon to clerk and up to Branch Manager. He opens the branch and closes in the evening as well. This is the pitiable condition of the bank branches. At least five employees are required in each branch to manage the affairs.
In Jammu Division there are total 24 branches and surprisingly just 54 employees are running these branches. A total 93 posts are lying vacant in Jammu Division alone. There is no recovery staff and adequate clerical or managerial staff to run the branches. For the last two decades (since 1998), no permanent staff was appointed by the bank. Moreover, since 2003, National Bank for Agricultural Rural Development Bank has also stopped providing loan to the bank. The other agency National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) had agreed to offer loan of Rs 200 crore to make this bank viable and help farming community in J&K but for the last four years State Govt has not accorded bank guarantee for the same and the functioning of the bank and its growth has been badly hit. Moreover, State Finance authorities and Cooperatives department are not taking this issue seriously.
Sources revealed that basically this bank was raised in the State to help farming community in purchasing tractors, thrushers, land, live stock/, sheep & goats, bee keeping, raising fish ponds, development of poultry farms, raise orchards, dairy farms, cold stores, shellers, pump sets, medicinal plants, for horticulture activity, agro clinics, agro business etc, but now a days most of the banks even the NABARD has been focusing on infrastructure development and the farming community has become the least priority for them, too. The growth of the bank has been reversed and recovery going very low. Lack of support from the Government is the main problem. Such an indifferent attitude of the State authorities towards farming community has ultimately affected the functioning of this bank, which is virtually lying on ventilator.
Managing Director of the SCARD Bank, Mohd Aslam Bhat when contacted said that term of the Board of Directors of the Bank expired in September 2016. The matter was brought to the notice of the authorities in the State Cooperatives Department which is the ultimate controlling authority and the then Minister for Cooperatives in the BJP-PDP Govt, Mor Dorjey. He said in the absence of a Board, it is very difficult to run the show and take important decisions pertaining to the operation of the bank. He said as per constitution Cooperative Minister is the chairman, MOS concerned vice chairman, Secretary Cooperatives and Registrar Cooperatives besides some others are members/ directors of the Board. He said that again the matter has been taken up with the higher authorities.
While replying to yet another question with regard to the shortage of staff, the Managing Director said since 1998, no permanent staff for the bank has been appointed. Since then many staff members have retired. Only once during 2012, some temporary employees were recruited to manage the affairs of the bank by taking permission from the Board. He said out of the total sanctioned strength of 375, 134 posts are lying vacant. Some more retirements are due in next three months. The bank is facing severe crisis of staff shortage.
“The Bank’s recovery position is also very poor as we have no staff for it in many branches. Again, there is acute shortage of field, clerical staff and the accounts professionals. We will approach to the concerned higher authorities for it because with the man power the growth of the bank is directed connected,” the MD maintained.

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