The Jharkhand State has approached the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) for a loan of Rs 625 crore in the current fiscal for integrated rural development projects covering roads, agriculture, fisheries, sericulture, health and drinking water among other things.
Out of the sum, Nabard has already disbursed Rs 162 crore between April and June under its flagship programme, Rural Infrastructure Development Funds (RIDF).
Nabard's Mumbai-based chief general manager B.S. Sekhawat, who specially looks after state projects, told that their approach had changed. "Earlier, we used to fund rural road projects only. But now, we have adopted an integrated development outlook. We will assist the state in over 100 road projects. Moreover, a similar number of projects will be undertaken in other sectors such as animal husbandry, fisheries, sericulture, rural marketing, education, health and drinking water," Sekhawat said.
The senior Nabard official was here to oversee the development of RIDF project. While speaking about the state's request for loan, Sekhawat insisted that they would be more that happy to lend more.
Sekhawat met senior state officials, including development commissioner S.K. Choudhary, planning secretary Sudhir Prasad and finance secretary Rajbala Verma to list the state's priorities and how Nabard could ease off the financial load.
Besides, he, along with Ranchi-based chief general manager of Nabard K.C. Shashidhar, visited some of the work sites funded by the bank. The officials visited a 1.5km road bridge between Nirsa and Jamtara near Dhanbad on June 27. The cost of the project is about Rs 37 crore.
Shashidhar said diversification of RIDF funding in the state would be their priority this fiscal, where in they wanted to incorporate all government departments entrusted with the task of rural development. "We organised a daylong capacity building workshop for state officials. More such workshops will be held in the near future," he added.
Nabard had sanctioned Rs 707 crore in the 2007-08 fiscal and Rs 631 crore for the 2008-09 financial year for the state under the RIDF scheme.
Sources said in the past two years, the state had given priority to building roads and bridges in rural areas and the attempts would start bearing fruits in a year or two.
Nabard has been into funding micro finance through self-help groups, non-farm sector activities, skill development, marketing infrastructure, watershed development and tribal development among other integrated development initiatives. It funds the schemes on an individual project basis, locally assesses them, conducts appraisal and sanctions funds quickly.
June 28 / Telegraph