The Rarah gram panchayat in Kumher sub-division of Bharatpur district will go cashless – payments to be made in ATM/debit cards -- by December 31, officials said.
The panchayat was declared open defecation-free under the Swachch Bharat Mission on September 30 last year.
The district administration and Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation, an NGO working on alternative models of rural development, have made preparations for online payments to announce Rarah as the first cashless panchayat in Rajasthan.
“We have formed a committee of the sub-divisional magistrate, tahsildar and patwari to monitor preparations for cashless payments. We are sure to announce cashless tag for the panchayat by December 31, first such panchayat in the state, and perhaps in the country,” Bharatpur district collector Narendra Kumar Gupta said on Wednesday.
“Most of the women have bank accounts under Bhamashah (a financial inclusion scheme). We will ensure all men and women above 18 years open accounts and get ATM cards.”
Payments in digital mode got a push after the Centre’s surprise announcement on November 8 to discontinue high-value notes. The Centre has taken steps to provide incentives to district administrations to boost cashless payments.
The panchayat with 1281 households has 7,258 voters and 1929 ration holders -- 1,819 of them are in the above poverty line (APL) category. Most villagers depend on agriculture in the panchayat that records 66.03% literacy rate -- male 76.58% and female 53.99%, officials said.
Almost 90% villagers have opened bank accounts in the Rarah panchayat that has three other villages -- Nagla Baghaiya, Nagla Chhauba, and Burawai; around 170 shopkeepers and vendors have filled up bank forms to get point-of-sale (PoS) machines in which villagers can swipe their ATM cards to purchase their items, officials said.
Sarpanch Mohan Singh said, “100% villagers of the panchayat will have bank accounts; we are in touch with bank authorities to ensure ATM cards for account holders soon.”
Lupin Foundation director Sitaram Gupta said, “The foundation tried to make Rarah a resurgent panchayat where loans are being provided to shopkeepers with current bank accounts. 26 women self-help groups (SHGs) set up in the panchayat will be trained in cashless transactions, using mobiles and other machines. Fifty more SHGs, each with 12-13 women, will be set up soon.”
The committee, formed by the collector, is monitoring the training for villagers to use swipe machines, officials said.