Gurgaon, Aug 10 (IANS) A few branches of HDFC Bank in the rural areas of Gurgaon are declining to open accounts with zero balance for students, farmers and labourers under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) scheme, applicants said here.

HDFC Bank has stopped opening accounts with zero balance in Gurgaon's Manesar, Sohna, Pataudi and Taoru regions.

At least 10 new branches of HDFC Bank were opened in the rural belt of the district including in Sikanderpur (Badha), Shikohpur, Hayatpur and nearby villages a few years ago to provide banking facilities to the villagers.

Villagers said they were denied an account with zero balance even before the PMJDY scheme was launched.

"We opened accounts under PMJDY scheme till October last year (2015) but currently opening of accounts with zero balance has been stopped till further orders from the headquarters," a senior HDFC Bank official said on the condition of anonymity.

"Accounts under HDFC's bank schemes number (section) 174 and 171 (for farmers and labourers) have been banned," he said.

Said Paramveer, a student: "I had deposited all required documents over three months ago at Sikanderpur (Badha) branch to open an account with zero balance. But bank officials are forcing me to open the account with minimum Rs 5,000 or 2,500 balance."

"The bank imposes fine on the account holder if the accepted minimum balance is not maintained," added an accountant.

"I had applied for an account under PMJDY but was denied," said a farmer from Hayatpur.

"We have received dozens of applications for such accounts and we are forwarding 'genuine cases' to circle head office to seek permission to open accounts with zero balance," Praveen Mehta, a senior executive at Sikanderpur (Badha) branch, told IANS.

When contacted at PMJDY's national helpline number (18001801111), the call attendant said: "One can open an account under PMJDY at any bank after providing required documents and can avail benefits provided under the scheme."

Satish Yadav, a senior official with a government bank, told IANS: "Private banks usually refuse to open such accounts because they don't want to give benefits awarded under PMJDY scheme to the customers."

PMJDY is a national mission on financial inclusion to ensure access to various services like availability of basic savings bank account, access to need based credit, remittances facility, insurance and pension to the excluded sections -- weaker sections and low income groups.

Accounts can be opened in any bank branch or business correspondent (Bank Mitr) outlet. PMJDY accounts are being opened with zero balance. However, if the account holder wishes to get a cheque book, she/he will have to fulfil minimum balance criteria.