BANKS AND THE POLLUTION

Pollution is a big monster which has engulfed the whole world especially the developing and the underdeveloped countries. The reason being that such countries need to develop factories, industry, infrastructure, mining, technology, defence, agriculture and education etc. Except for services and education, all other sectors of the economy create pollution in one way or the other. Factories, industries, and technology create smoke dust, dangerous gases, heat and noise which all add to the pollution level all around. Infrastructure creates noise, dust, and electronic pollution. Development in defence is the mother of all types of pollution in the air, on the ground and in the sea. On the micro level, all of us contribute to the addition in pollution in many ways.

Banks are the agents of development and no economy can survive or develop without a sound banking system. while they are contributing to the development of nations, they are by default contributing to the creation of pollution. Creation of pollution can’t be segregated for elimination from the development, however, it can be reduced by going green wherever possible. But we can’t have a green defense, ammunition, missiles, warplanes. Likewise, we can’t dream of green industrial wastage, green effluents, and green noise, smoke, and e- wastage. These need to be properly managed and treated before being disposed of.

Pollution as such is a compulsory evil which needs to be managed in a proper manner and kept at a tolerable level: a total elimination is impossible.

There are mainly two bodies which are entrusted with the job of managing pollution and cleanliness. Urban and rural local bodies such as municipal committees/corporations and the pollution control boards. However, the green tribunals are also doing a wonderful job by enforcing applicable laws for the safety of the environment and ecology. Municipal bodies lack planning, adequate funds, and trained manpower. The very urgent and necessary job of cleaning and garbage management is being done in a very casual manner. Municipal garbage from drains is removed and stocked in lanes, dumped on the roads in open where animals, birds, and flies feast to their will and is ultimately transported to dumping yards which are either within the dwelling areas or are very close to them. The small and the big drains remain choked thereby creating harmful gases and spreading of foul smell laced with dangerous bacteria. The effluent in the drains is allowed untreated into the rivers and canals with impunity. It appears as if all the concerned are in a deep slumber although they like other citizens are equally affected by the pollution so created.

The plight of the municipal field workers is pitiable. They are not properly trained to handle such a risky job which in addition to affecting their health has sometimes resulted in their deaths due to exposures to hazardous and toxic gases while cleaning the gutters. Their very tedious, dangerous, and risky job which ordinarily no one will like to do unless one has the compelling circumstances of poverty, is not properly appreciated and suitably compensated. The need of the hour is to provide adequate training to these menial laborers and their job to be properly compensated and appreciated. They need to be provided with all the necessary items required for their safety such as helmets, long gumboots, rubber gloves, and pollution masks. Unless they are not adequately trained, compensated, provided with necessary safety items, they can’t be held accountable for any lax in the performance of their duty. A very casual approach at the administrative level is bound to induce a work culture of casual nature.

The pollution control boards have the prime responsibility of controlling the pollution but the level of pollution all around speaks volumes about the failure of their efforts to control the same. The history is witness to the fact that whenever any control was exercised on any activity, it went out of control. We had exchange control, gold control, and also the birth control but all these controls failed to achieve the desired results and ultimately their nomenclature was changed. Exchange control was changed to Foreign exchange management act (FEMA). Gold control act too has been repealed and now it is from control to seamless trade. Birth control is now Family planning. Control seems to be a crude word. Pollution control boards are therefore desired to be renamed as pollution management boards which should be made accountable for the proper management of pollution.

The present position of these boards is not appreciable and seems to be lacking in action, performance, and governance. Factories and industries are existing in the middle of towns, cities, and the metros, making hell for the life of the residents. Diesel generator sets at almost all commercial complexes as well as at Pvt. residences are contributing a lot to the already existing pollution. Municipal waste is dumped in the lanes and on the roads. Even the greenest agriculture/horticulture sector is not behind in contributing their share of pollution by burning huge quantity of stubble in the fields and pruned branches and dry leaves of the trees. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and spraying of poisonous pesticides is adding to the pollution in the air and on the earth thereby disturbing the balance of nature ( SAVE THE EARTH ). Toxic effluents from factories and households are allowed freely to flow to the so-called sacred rivers.

And above all, we the citizens do clean our houses but unmindfully throw the garbage on the lanes and roads sometimes just in front of our houses. We always expect others to respect the law and do things for us. Who will come to our rescue if we are bent upon digging our own graves and make this wonderful planet a hell for our coming generations? The coming generations will curse us if we all, responsible for this mess, didn’t mend our styles of working and ensure the health of the Earth and that of humanity as a whole.

Construction of unplanned or wrongly planned concrete jungles after destroying the natural green cover without caring a bit for the ecology and environment is being allowed which also is a major cause for the pollution. Who will stop this or mend the wrongs already done? Are the concerned authorities waiting for someone to come from the heavens to set things right for us? Nature has already started showing its anger(NATURE’s EQUILIBRIUM) and reaction in the form of storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. These early warnings are signs of the Doomsday. We all have to respect nature and try our best to save our beautiful planet.

Banks although not directly creating pollution, but are aiding the creation of the same in a big way. They can play a vital role directly and indirectly in managing pollution in a big way. There is hardly any activity which is not in one way or the other dependant on the banks. Banks should strictly ensure that the activity they are financing will not pollute the air, water or the land in any manner. They should ensure that the factories and the big complexes have proper sewage treatment plants (STP) in proper working order as well as arrangements for the proper treatment and disposal of the garbage, effluents, and the emissions. Installments of finance can be withheld until these facilities are not created. Banks should ensure that such add ups are in proper working order by physically inspecting them during their periodical inspection of the inventories and the plant, machinery, and other assets financed by them.

Banks do ensure that the unit proposed to be financed has adequate space/land available but have failed to ensure that the proposed loanee for a vehicle loan has adequate parking space at his place of residence or elsewhere excepting the lanes and the roads. The lanes and the roads appear as car bazars with hardly any space left for movement of vehicles or for the people to walk. Banks have a great role in the creation of congestion in the lanes and on the roads thus slowing down the movement of traffic and creation of a lot of pollution. One may have to visit the bank ten times to get a loan sanctioned for the purchase of a buffalo, but the car loan is sanctioned, disbursed, and even the car is got delivered within less than an hour. We see attractive advertisements of the banks in the newspapers about the facility of quick sanction and disbursement of the loan for the vehicle and other electronic items at much cheaper rates and at no margin or very nominal margin. Has anyone seen such an advertisement for a loan for the purchase of a cow, buffalo, or a horse which provide livelihood and create no pollution? Banks also need to promote with the similar zeal the sectors which are eco-friendly and provide more job opportunities to the people.

Banks need to promote those sectors which are going green by setting a self-example of going green themselves. To start with they can get all their main buildings run on green solar energy by harnessing the same on their rooftops and growing more green plants, grass, and flowers in the open spaces. This would set an example for others to follow. They should promote the use of green manure in agriculture and horticulture by helping the farmers to convert animals dung into vermicompost and the converting the other field wastage, leaves, pruned branches of trees into the green manure by the available techniques which are cheap and easy to use. This needs to be done in a mission mode as this can change the life of people in terms of quality as well as financially. They can do this as well as help farmers in the management of stubble by diverting their CSR funds for this noble cause. Banks are agents of development, let them now prove that they are agents of change also. With the type of dedication, commitment, and zeal with which the bankers have been working, it is expected that they can do this very effectively.

BANKS; LEVEL FINANCING

Banks are the true agents of development of any economy. They have played a vital role in the overall development of economies world over. Although overall development did happen but the spread of the same is not even all along, which has resulted in uneven income in different sectors and areas. The distribution of credit, therefore, needs to be rationalized in such a manner that the benefits of the same reach out to all across the areas as well as sectors and activities.

Banks have always shied away from lending in rural and undeveloped or underdeveloped areas and sectors despite a lot of directions from the regulators as well as from the state. This is due to the fear of losing money because of the nonviability of the proposed units and schemes in these areas. Lack of proper infrastructure in rural and underdeveloped areas is mainly responsible for the poor growth of the economy in these areas. The prime reason for poor lending in such areas is lack of infrastructure which makes the projects and schemes less viable and hence does not attract bank’s attention.

Now that lot of infrastructure has reached the rural and less developed areas. There are better power availability and better road connectivity, transport, and markets in the rural areas though not as better as in the cities but there is a great push to provide more and improve the existing facilities in these areas. Banks too have opened their units in these areas. The only problem is that banks are mobilizing resources from these areas and passing on the main part of the same for investment in other areas or to their controlling offices for deployment elsewhere. The required purpose of opening branches in such areas, therefore, gets defeated by siphoning out the resources from underprivileged areas to the better-privileged areas thereby further widening the gap of development in different areas. In order to ensure the equal level of development across all the regions, the norms for the calculation of credit-deposit (CD) ratio need to be redrawn/modified. Following suggestive measure may be of help to plug the loopholes in the system:

  1. To start with block should be considered as a unit.  For the calculation of CD ratio, all branches of different banks operating in a block be made to meet the mandatory CD ratio of 60% individually. Only that part of credit which has been utilized within the limits of the block should be taken for the calculation of CD ratio for the block. These ratios should be monitored at the Block level. The block-wise unit size may be carried over to Panchayat level after some time.
  2. Branches of a bank who in order to meet the requirements of CD ratio exceed the limits of the block and deploy funds in other blocks, or for the units in urban areas or industrial areas in other blocks. All such branches of banks should be imposed with a penalty of 1% on the interest earned on the amount of loan allowed in areas beyond their block and 2% on the interest of the part of finance in urban or an industrial area in other blocks.
  3. In order to encourage branches in the metro, urban, and semi-urban areas to fund units in rural and underdeveloped areas an incentive of 2% be offered provided 80% employment in such units is given to the locals of the block in which such financing is done.
  4. Foreign banks who have branches in metros only should also be made to contribute to the development of underdeveloped areas and sectors as per the rules of engagement with them. The Incentives proposed above may also be provided to such banks also.
  5. The amount of penalty and incentives stated above to be routed through a special fund which may be called ‘ Level Development Fund’ (LDF). This fund may be maintained by the coordinator of the State level bankers committee of the concerned state. Any shortfall at any time in this fund to be made good by the concerned state govt. The incentive to be provided or penalty to be imposed be calculated quarterly basis on the figures of 15th of the last month of each quarter in order to avoid artificial fluctuations on account of any window dressing to which the banks generally resort to in order to show better figures in the balance sheets on the  closing date of the respective quarter.
  6. In the case of consortium financing, the amount financed by the respective member banks of the consortium will be treated as financing in the block in which the unit so financed is located and not the block in which the financing branch is working and the penalty would accordingly be levied.  The location of the unit is to be considered and not the location of the controlling or administrative office of the unit.
  7. In case of income or commission earned out of nonfund based business such as a letter of credit or guarantees of any type, the penalty and incentive of 1 or 2% as the case may be, will be imposed under the similar circumstances of exceeding or entering in the jurisdiction of the block as discussed above.
  8. Penalty once charged is to be nonrefundable and no claim of any type to be entertained on any pretext such as the account becoming an NPA for any reasons.
  9. Any shortfall in the amount required to meet the mandatory requirement of meeting 60% CD ratio by any branch of a bank in a block to be kept in RIDF with NABARD at the prescribed rates.
  10. Branches of the banks in any block may divert funds after meeting the mandatory CD ratio of 60% in the block in which they are functioning for deployment anywhere as per their choice. However, in case they exceed CD ratio for financing within the block where they are functioning, they shall be given an incentive on the interest on the additional amount at 1%.

The CD ratio should be ensured to be maintained at the mandatory level by each branch of a bank block-wise, and by the respective banks district-wise, region wise, and state-wise. Inter-region and inter-state financing to be excluded for the purpose of calculating respective CD ratios. Suitable penalty as proposed above to be imposed on such lending. This would discourage flight of resources from the concerned areas to the other areas and ensure a level development of all areas and sectors.

In the present as well as during the future times the lucrative market for financing is in the rural areas as there is a lot of money and market in that sector.