SBI has decided to increase manifold the minimum balance required for maintaining savings account from April 1.

The country’s biggest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) will start levying penalty on non-maintenance of minimum balance in accounts from today. The bank has decided to increase manifold the minimum balance required for maintaining savings account from April 1. This move from SBI is expected to hit around 31 crore depositors including pensioners and students. For metro branches, the monthly average balance will be Rs. 5,000 and penalty for non-maintenance of minimum balance will be between Rs. 50 and Rs. 100.

And for urban and semi-urban branches, the average balance has been decided at Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 2,000, respectively. In case of rural branches, the minimum balance has been fixed at Rs. 1,000. Breach of monthly average balance will attract a penalty ranging between Rs. 20 and Rs. 50.

After the revised charges, cash withdrawal from ATMs will also attract a charge of up to Rs. 20 if the number of transactions exceeds three from other bank’s ATMs in a month and Rs. 10 for more than five withdrawals from State Bank of India ATMs.

Although, SBI will not levy any charge on withdrawals from its own ATMs if the balance exceeds Rs. 25,000. In case of withdrawal by its customers from ATMs of other banks, there will be no charge if the balance exceeds Rs. 1 lakh.

The bank justified its move saying it needs to impose some charges to balance the “burden” of managing a large number of no-frills Jan Dhan accounts.

“Today, we have lot of burden such as we have 11 crore financial inclusion or Jan Dhan accounts. To manage such a large number of Jan Dhan accounts, we need some charges. We have considered many factors and after analysing carefully, we have taken this step,” SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said.

Ms Bhattacharya also said that the penalty was there earlier too and SBI was the only bank to withdraw it in 2012.

Also, five associates and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank became part of SBI today, catapulting the bank to among the top 50 banks in the world. “State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ), State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH), State Bank of Mysore (SBM), State Bank of Patiala (SBP) and State Bank of Travancore (SBT), besides Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB), merged with SBI with effect from April 1,” the bank said in a statement.

With the merger, SBI is set to become a lender of global proportions with an asset base of Rs. 37 lakh crore or over $555 billion.