Kolkata: The Union Government has set an ambitious target of stretching banking facilities to hinterlands of nine North Eastern states including Jharkhand and West Bengal, as told by the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The states have to open 10,721 rural branches by end of this fiscal on March 21, 2012. While half of the target has been achieved so far, the rest of the branches are expected to be opened by March.

Mukherjee was talking to reporters after the commencement of the assessment and review meeting with the officials of the public sector banks here on Tuesday.

Mukherjee said, “The UPA government is making these efforts to speed up in-principled socio-economic development in the North Eastern states and this initiative is one such effort.”

However, the media was not allowed in the meeting held between the CMDs of the banks and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mukherjee later turned down media questions and refused to speak about the meeting to be held with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

According to sources, the agenda of the meeting with Mamata to provide special economic package to West Bengal, which is to be held in presence of Governor MK Narayan, was finalized.