Livelihood mission to strengthen self-help groups: Joshi

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) A central government-sponsored self-employment scheme, now recast as the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), will strengthen self-help groups (SHGs) to bring the poor out of poverty and enable them earn more, Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi said Friday.

The NRLM will comprehensively address the needs of 6.5 crore rural poor households of the country, he said.

Addressing a press conference, he said that of 6.5 crore rural poor households, around two crore were organised in 20 lakh self-help groups. ‘These will be strengthened, and, remaining 4.5 crore households will be organised into SHGs in the next five years.’

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) Thursday approved the restructuring of the Swaranjayanti Gram Swarazgar Yojana (SGSY) as the NRLM, on the basis of past experience and shortcomings pointed out by research studies and recommendations by various committees.

Joshi said the mission aims at appreciable increase in income of rural poor by providing self employment and wage employment and will tackle rural poverty in a time bound manner through mission mode approach.

The minister said that a poor family can come out of poverty in six to eight years if they have a good hand-holding support system and were able to access at least Rs.100,000 in several doses.

Stressing that the mission provides for interest loan subvention on the loans taken by the SHGs, he said interest on loans taken from financial institutions above seven per cent will be reimbursed to them. ‘This is applicable till a member has cumulatively taken loans of upto Rs. 100,000,’ he said.

The minister said NRLM will also focus on enhancing skills of rural youth and placing them in semi-urban and urban growth centres.

‘A NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) worker should not remain a NREGA worker for life. They will be enabled to diversify and enhance their livelihoods.’

He said instead of allocation based approach for providing funds to the states, the mission will follow demand driven approach for release of funds on receipt of state level action plans.

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