INDORE: Pilgrims visiting temples and religious ‘akharas’ will now be able to make donations using plastic money during Ujjain Simhastha 2016. Card swiping machines will be installed at the temples and designated places for ‘akharas’ in Ujjain where over four crore people are expected to gather during the peak month of Simhastha festivities.
This is for the first time in India that banks have been asked to issue special ‘Simhastha Debit Cards’ to the pilgrims to make donations at religious places, Ujjain divisional commissioner Ravindra Pastor told TOI.
The administration had contacted four banks, including SBI, HDFC and ICICI, to ease monetary transactions for the pilgrims by increasing their presence during Simhastha.
Card swiping machines will help the pilgrims move without carrying huge amount of cash and make donations as well as purchases during their visit across the fair area, he said. With a massive influx of pilgrims at the fair, people find it difficult to carry and manage cash, especially when they take part in various rituals like taking a holy dip in Kshipra river. “The move to introduce debit cards will also curtail incidents of thefts and pick-pocketing,” said the divisional commissioner.
With financial inclusion campaigns becoming successful, it will not be difficult for anyone to get these cards, said Pastor, adding that the facilities to open instantaneous bank accounts in satellite towns of Ujjain, without much paperwork, will also help pilgrims to get Simhastha Debit Cards.
Some banks have already made preparations to utilise the wide range of opportunities that Simhastha 2016 offers to the banking sector. State Bank of India chief manager Azad Goyal said, “We will move ahead in a big way by installing over 100 card swiping machines to enable cashless transactions.”
Besides starting nearly half-a-dozen banking outlets, SBI will also install coin vending machines at various places in Ujjain. The idea stemmed from experiences of Ujjain administration during the last Simhastha. “Shortage of coins for pilgrims to drop in donation boxes was noticed last time. The administration has now invited banks to install coin vending machines in various camps that are planned during the festivities,” an officer said.
Pilgrims will be able to exchange currency notes of various denominations for coins at these vending machines.