India's largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) opened its 11,111th branch at Sonapur near Guwahati in Assam. With this the branch network of the bank has been raised to 230 branches in the state.
The branch was inaugurated by the Home Minister and former Finance Minister, P Chidambaram who said that the Centre is keen to develop Assam by strengthening infrastructure. This new branch of SBI will cater to the needs of a large rural population and soon it will be on the core banking platform, thus offering all banking related services.
SBI is expected to increase its reach in the North-Eastern region and therefore had announced in December to come up with about 60 branches particularly in the rural and semi-urban areas of North-Eastern region. Chairman O P Bhatt said, "An additional 60 branches are expected to be added to the tally, majority of which will be located in rural and semi-urban areas."
Presently the bank has a total of 478 branches in the entire North-East. During the last financial year, the bank opened 25 branches in the region and 18 branches have been started in this financial year so far, said Bhatt. He further told that another 44 branches will be opened by the end of fiscal. SBI total business in North-East has increased from Rs 10,573 crore in March 2003 to Rs 32,933 crore in November 2008.
The Chairman further informed that the ATM network would also go up from 288 to 514 by the end of the current fiscal. The bank has also opened 2,50,000 no-frills accounts and sponsored 5 regional rural banks with network of 175 branches.
"We have provided assistance to all sections of society, including farmers, students and artisans, and are now gearing up to reach the yet-excluded population," said Bhatt.
SBI has been recently awarded as the best bank by the Banker magazine of London. It has been in the lead of the country&aposs economic development, especially for the areas that are far and inaccessible.