Mobile ATM; BSF's unique help to Jaridharla villagers amid lockdown (IANS Special).. Image Source: IANS News

Cooch Behar : , April 27 (IANS) Located on the India-Bangladesh international border, Jaridharla village got some help amid the lockdown crisis when Border Security Force (BSF) facilitated money to the needy villagers through 'mobile ATM'-- a unique method adopted to meet the requirements of poor and destitute.

Jaridharla, the Indian village on the border that is not marked off by a fence because of a river Dharla passing through this stretch, got the facility as people residing there were not allowed to move out due to lockdown enforcement. The villagers need to visit a nearby Automated Teller Machine (ATM) installed five kilometres from the village which is situated on the extreme north-eastern border of West Bengal and at some specific time it was almost entirely dependent on a town that is just a 15 minute walk away-- Moghulhut-- in Bangladesh.

When the BSF saw that almost 200 villagers residing in the village could not withdraw money from the ATM since the lockdown was imposed with the March 24 announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they adopted 'mobile ATM' method to meet the cash requirement of the villagers. The 'mobile ATM' turned into a boon for Jaridharla villagers and they managed to withdraw money as per their requirements on Friday last week.

Several villagers withdrew around Rs 20,000 through the unique technology introduced for the first time by the BSF for the needy residing in villages on the international boundary. The BSF, which is mandated to guard 4,096 km India-Bangladesh border, has so far introduced the facility only in Jaridharla as the villagers here are dependent solely on farming and they need money for produce like salt, oil, soap or medicine.

A team of five persons, including two Customer Service Points (CSP) of Okhrabari Bank and three state government NGOs, distributed money to the villagers between 9.30 a.m. and 1 p.m. last Friday for the first time and the villagers withdrew from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000, BSF Frontier (Guwahati) spokesperson Parashar told IANS.

The villagers having Aadhaar cards linked to their accounts availed the unique cash withdrawal facility. "Bordermen are there, standing with every person living in villages located close to the international boundary for their requirements. During this lockdown, 38 Battalion BSF facilitated a mobile ATM facility to reach villagers of Jaridharla-2 Cooch Behar, West Bengal for Aadhaar based accounts," BSF spokesperson (Headquarters) Subhendu Bhardwaj told IANS. He said that BSF battalions deployed on the India-Bangladesh border were making all out efforts to facilitate the villagers during this lockdown because of COVID-19 pandemic.

"Apart from sensitisation for the precautions to be undertaken like social distancing, washing hands with soap, keeping the face covered with masks or any homemade arrangements, we are also providing necessary essentials like rations, facemasks, soaps etc. to the needy in the villages.

"But liquid cash is always required for other things of basic need. To make this available, we thought to bring the mobile ATM facility to Jaridharla villagers. It was appreciated by the beneficiaries," Bhardwaj said.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)

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