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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Silchar Cooperative Urban Bank Ltd on liquidation

SILCHAR, Dec 30: Though Cooperation Minister Bharat Narah attributed the bankruptcy and collapse of the century old Silchar Cooperative Urban Bank Ltd, located at Banipara in the heart of this town, to financial irregularities, withdrawal of licence by the RBI and lack of minimum required capital fund, insiders blame an influential political coterie of the ruling party for all the mess and the resultant move for liquidation of the bank. On being questioned by The Sentinel on the possibility of rejuvenating the bank, the minister during his last visit here said, “Besides liquidation, many options are being weighed and are under the consideration of my government.”

But no positive signal emerged from what the Minister tried to explain away. A new board of management to be constituted, he said, would examine all aspects for reorganizing the bank. He, however, made it clear that its revival would require a capital of Rs 3 to 4 crore. According to reports, Narah did not seem to favour a high level probe to find out the causes for its collapse and to pinpoint the gang of guilty for initiating administrative or legal action against them.

If several Central and State sponsored small and medium scale industries in this valley have collapsed due to the greedy and evil design of syndicates of the ruling party at different times, Urban Bank is another classic example of this nefarious machination, observers maintained. Set up in 1905 by some masterminds of Silchar and Sylhet to help the marginalized sections of the society for their socio-economic uplifts with contributory impact, the bank since then had been doing brisk business and rendering yeoman’s service.

Although there had been deliberate attempts by the coterie to push the premier financial institution to disaster for their self-aggrandizement, the purpose reached its peak in 1997. And when the Bank reached its nadir of mismanagement, former MP and the present district Congress Committee (DCC) president Karnendu Bhattacharjee was nominated as the chairman of the managing board with five board of directors.

The board of management headed by the current Cachar deputy commissioner Gautam Ganguli submitted a concrete proposal a year back to the State Government for revamping the bank which, however, did not evoke any response.

From the preliminary records, it transpires that the total liabilities of the bank stand at Rs 1.30 crore and the outstanding loan dues to be realized come around Rs 1.72 crore. Questions now being asked in competent circles is: Should not the State Government take steps to recover huge amount of loans so that capital fund necessary for restoring the RBI licence could be generated?

Records further reveal that the process to ruin the bank started in 1994. The bank came to be utilized as a means to further the political mileage. Throwing the RBI rules, regulations and guidelines to the forewind, the board of management with bias to Congress of the time sanctioned loans at random to appease party workers and supporters. According to the bank records, an amount of Rs 70 lakh was given out as loans in three days.

On September 18, 1994, Rs 26.90 lakh loan amount was given to 115 people, on December 12, 1994, Rs 13.27 lakh was sanctioned to 57 individuals, the records added. Also, before the general elections of 1996, Rs 40.10 lakh was lent in two instalments. After the polls, as promised to supporters, Rs 29.65 lakh was paid to 120 people on June 17, 1996.

Worst is the plight of those who had deposited their hard earned savings in the bank and still pathetic is the predicament of those employees and their dependent family members who have been rendered jobless after the bank failed.

Public demand is that Bharat Narah should order a high-level inquiry in order to unearth the scam and the masterminds behind it. THE SENTINEL

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