On 24th March, 2020, the Prime Minister of India has declared the nationwide lockdown due to global widespread of Covid 19. As a result, the entire businesses, works, and economy have shut down leading to enormous losses of jobs and livelihood. Consequently thousands of daily wage labours from different states (mainly big urban cities) have started migrating back to their native places. They all walked thousands of miles with empty stomach to reach their homes.

As a relief measure; some State Government has announced to transfer a relief fund of Rs. 1000 in their bank accounts. Though the amount of relief fund was already very less as compared to the kind of catastrophic crisis they were dealing with, but even then, when this money got credited into the bank accounts of workers, the entire fund has been deducted in the name of bank’s service charges. These are the charges imposed by banks for availing almost all the banking services like charges for maintaining required minimum balance, cash withdrawal/deposit, SMS alert, balance inquiry, passbook update, etc. The deduction of entire relief fund from the accounts of poor people clearly indicates the vast level of infinite charges commenced by banks in the name of availing banking services.

Looking at current scenario, the Finance Minster, Ms. Nirmala Sitaraman has also announced on 24th March, 2020 to withhold all ATM charges for the next 3 months. But even after making such declaration of holding back all the charges for a short period of 3 months, they haven’t stopped imposing any charge from the saving accounts of depositors. Recently there have been several cases of labours and migrants workers whose almost entire relief fund got deducted ruthlessly in the name of non maintenance of minimum balance and other charges. It is totally illogical and unfair to impose these charges on these people because they are the class of migrant workers who doesn’t have any savings at all, who have walked thousands of miles with their families to return homes and have starved for days just because they don’t have single penny in their pockets.

Hence, it is evident enough to see that the government has no value for its word or any of its statement. Its ultimate objective is to recover from losses (NPA’s) at any cost which has been caused by writing off the huge loans of corporate firms and industries.

At such depressed time, when the labour migrants have been suffering the most due to shattered economy, the government must not only announce financial relief measures but also implements them realistically.

Through ‘No Bank Charges’ campaign we demand that the Prime Minister, RBI and Government of India should not just take away the bank charges for 3 months but must permanently cease them and make labours accessible to all its financial relief measures.

The article published in Counter Currents can be accessed here.

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