AgencyNew Delhi: The Centre has asked all states and Union Territories to ensure normal functioning of banks and ATMs during the lockdown period as the Rs 27,500 crore financial package announced under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana will be disbursed in coming days. In a communication to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said many state governments have issued instructions for reduced working hours of banks, functioning of limited number of branches, restriction on movement of personnel related to filling cash in ATMs and their maintenance among others. He however, said smooth banking operations and related activities across the country are essential. Further, the central government has announced a financial package under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana under which approximately Rs 27,500 crore are going to be disbursed during this week and in the coming weeks to the targeted public through bank branches, ATMs and business correspondents (BCS), Bhalla said. In view of these facts, the home secretary said, necessary instructions may please be issued by the state governments and Union Territory administrations to their field functionaries to ensure that bank branches remain functional. “Cash management and maintenance agencies of ATMs are allowed, banks are permitted to remain open and functional for extended working hours, if necessary, on March 30 and 31 for their annual closure and government business. “Local district/state/police administrations are in preparedness to coordinate with banks during the disbursement of money to the people covered under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana,” he said in the letter sent on Monday. Banks, ATMs including IT vendors for banking operations, bank correspondent and ATM operation, and cash management services have been exempted under the guidelines on the lockdown measures issued under the Disaster Management Act. The 21-day lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 in a bid to combat the coronavirus epidemic.
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