In a bid to revive the already defunct Assam State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development (ASCARD) Bank, vice-chairman of State Innovation and Transformation Ayog (SITA) Dipok Kr Barthakur submitted the final report of the Expert Committee on ASCARD Bank to the Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at the latter’s office at Janata Bhawan on Friday.
The SITA vice-chairman was accompanied by Chairman of the Expert Committee Bhaskar Barua and Chief Executive Officer SITA KK Nath at the time of submission of the report.
Taking into consideration the important role the bank could play in supporting the agriculture and allied sectors in the State, the Governing Body of SITA in its meeting on August 29, 2017 decided to constitute an expert committee to study the causes of sickness and possibility of a revival plan for the bank under the chairmanship of retired IAS officer Bhaskar Barua with other members including Samir Baruah, Corporate General Manager (Retd), Indian Overseas Bank and Kashinath Hazarika, ex-CMD.
The Expert Committee submitted its report after having 26 rounds of discussions with Bank Management, State Cooperation Department and other stakeholders. The Committee examined and reviewed every details of the bank and came to the conclusion that the bank may be considered for revival, provided there is complete support from the State Government and commitment from both Government and the bank to abide fully by the recommendations made by the committee in its final report.
It may be mentioned that Assam Cooperative Land Mortgage Bank (ACLMB) and the Primary Land Mortgage Banks (PLMBs) established in 1956 were converted into Assam State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development (ASCARD) Bank in 1991.
It was created for development of agriculture and allied activities and agro-based industries. Established under Cooperative Societies Registration Act, the bank had 28 branches in the districts with its headquarters at Guwahati. The bank had gone sick since the year 2000 onwards on account of poor administrative control, lack of follow up of loan repayments with accumulating NPAs, poor monitoring and recovery of loans, discontinuation of refinance from NABARD from 1995 and other issues related to poor management.