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State blamed for rural loss

Nagaon, June 9: More than a thousand self-help groups of Assam are facing financial losses because the panchayat and rural development department has stopped funds for Swarjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) from March 31 2013.

According to records, the number of such self-help groups (SHGs) suffering losses is maximum in the two central Assam districts Nagaon and Morigaon.

The District Rural Development Agencies issued sanction letters of subsidy for these SHGs under the Swarjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) two or three years back. Depending on these departmental letters, banks released loans to the SHGs.

However, the central government’s decision to stop SGSY from March 31, 2013 and subsequent introduction of National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) stood in the way of releasing the subsidy amount from DRDAs to banks, leading to the groups facing financial losses.

Members of 312 such SHGs queued up in Nagaon DRDA after receiving repeated bank notices asking them to pay the loan interest. According to Nagaon DRDA, more than Rs 3.2 crore is required under the SGSY to meet the subsidy.

“Of the affected SHGs, a maximum of 47 groups are from Dolonghat development block. Jugijan development block has the minimum — seven such groups — who availed of loans with sanctioned departmental letters from banks in Hojai subdivision. During the last financial year, we moved Dispur twice, asking for special consideration, but the government expressed its helplessness as the scheme ended a year back. We are collecting data of such SHGs to move Dispur for consideration. Doubtless that would be a big financial loss for these groups if our committed subsidies are not paid,” said a Morigaon DRDA source.

As per guidelines, under SGSY, a 13-member group, could avail of bank loan up to 2.6 lakh, 50 per cent of which is subsidy. The loan amount would come down to Rs 2 lakh if the number of SHGs is 10.

The NRLM was introduced initially in eight districts of the state — Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Jorhat, Sonitpur, Tinsukia, Dhemaji, Hailakandi and Chirang — from April 1, 2013.

SGSY was officially announced as closed immediately before the new mission was taken up.

Fact File

SGSY- Swarjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana launched in 1999-2000

Yojana stopped in March 31, 2013

Basic objectives:

Upgrading BPLs to APL through integrated approach
Long-term sustainable opportunities for rural poor
Infrastructure, training, technology, marketing support to people in groups
National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) launched on April 1, 2013 replaced SGSY