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Jun 22, 2009 at 04:04pm IST

Bank burns midnight oil, keeps village bright

Gandhacherra, Tripura: Lights in Gandhacherra village in Tripura dim early but one place is abuzz and alit till late hours: at the government-owned bank.

The Tripura Gramin Bank in Gandhacherra serves 65,000 families, many of whom are very poor, uneducated and belong to tribal communities. The bank stays open till midnight to serve its customers.

"Coming to the bank at official hours is a problem for us. From 8 am (0800 hrs IST) till 3 pm (1500 hrs IST) we are busy earning a living at the NREGA project. Once work is over then we come to the bank," says Swarnojoy Tripura, a resident of Gandhacherra.

A woman customer says her home is far away and the journey to reach the bank takes long. "There is no proper road. We cannot come here during the day since we are in the jungles at that time," she says.

Closing time is never early at the bank, which handles over 1,000 transactions every day. The bankers have basic technology at their disposal to work round the clock.

Bank manager Bishnupada Saha says he has never known what finishing work early is. “The bank was formed in 1976 and I joined in 1980. Never in a day since then has there been a simple 10 am to 5 pm shift. People come from far--some walk up to 30 km to reach us," says Saha.

Gandhacherra was once the hotbed of insurgency but the bank staff put up a brave face during that tough period so that they could serve their customers--almost round the clock.