Nathu-La, the centuries-old mountain pass on the Silk Route, has now a modern-day landmark added to it: the world’s highest ATM counter at 14, 300 ft in Kupup.
Union Bank of India, which beat other banks some years ago, setting up an ATM on the Indian Navy’s INS Vikrant, the first on a warship, launched the Nathu-La facility on Friday, beating a private bank, which has its counter in Thegu in the same area but at 13, 200 ft.
Meant primarily for army personnel along the Sino-India border, the ATM will also service tourists. Inaugurating the setup, Union Bank MD cum chairman M.V. Nair said, “The area remains snow-bound for much of the year. Our attempt is to provide facilities of instant banking to our soldiers as also to thousands of tourists who flock here everyday”.
“This counter will help us a lot,” Colonel Sanjay, commanding officer of then Indian army’s Nathu-La battalion said.
The ATM, however, will function only during daytime and would receive power supply from a generator. Care has been taken to make sure it functions even in subzero temperatures.
Mahesh Gupta of Jaipur, who was at Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir with his family and withdrew Rs 500 from the counter, said he was proud and excited to draw money from the world’s highest ATM. Flaunting the withdrawal slip, he said, “I will preserve this as a memento”.
The Union Bank CMD said, “We have opened 127 branches across the country in 2006-2007, taking the total number of our branches to 2,206. We intend to open 125 more this year.” The bank is also in the process of opening a couple of branches in China and one each in Shanghai, Doha and Dubai.