New Delhi:  In a bid to connect more than 72,000 villages to banking services by March 2012, the nationalized banks, which were giving voluntary retirement schemes (VRS) to their staff a few years back, are now gearing up for huge recruitments.

According to sources, 28 nationalized banks, which have already reached an agreement with the government, will have to recruit 2, 11,622 new employees in the next two and half years. Now, it would be compulsory for the new employees to spare at least two years for rural postings initially.

The banks had already sent a report to the Ministry of Finance over the requirement of human resources. The top officials of Finance Ministry and the management of different banks in their meeting on Tuesday approved this proposal.

Out of the total number of seats, 85,602 would be for the officers and the rest 99,674 would be for the clerical staff. Besides, 26,346 would be recruited as subordinate staff.

The State Bank of India (SBI), which is facing huge crunch of staff, will recruit for 33,050 posts including 25,900 clerks and 5400 officers, whereas the Bank of India and Punjab National Bank will employ 16,321 and 15,613 staffs respectively.

Similarly, many small banks including Oriental Bank of Commerce and State Bank of Hyderabad are also willing to go for huge recruitment.

A top bank official said they have to fill up majority of vacancies by March 2012 to provide banking service in more than 43,000 villages.

It may be noted that the government in March 2010 had announced to provide 72,000 villages of more than 2000 population with banking service. Under this plan, only 29,000 villages have so far been linked with banking service by March 2011.

The government, however, has extended the time limit for recruitment.