The Union rural development ministry is setting up a body called `Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation' (BRLF) with a Rs. 1,000-crore corpus with the help of India Inc, to promote economic and social empowerment in 170 districts, including those affected by Naxal violence.
"I have already written to the Tatas, Reliance, Infosys, and Wipro, apart from the dairy cooperative NDDB, and Nabard, to be the founding members of BRLF. My ministry is giving initial corpus of Rs. 500 crore," Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said in Mumbai on Saturday.
"I want the rest to come from the corporates," Ramesh told reporters after a meeting with the NABARD brass in Mumbai.
We have called a meeting on April 27 in New Delhi of all the stakeholders, including corporates, civil society organisations and grass-root level activists."
This is the first time the government is formally reaching out to the private sector to tackle the Naxal problem. The foundation will work for improving livelihood and habitats of tribals in 170 districts, 78 of which are severely affected by the Maoist violence, Ramesh said.
NABARD and the government-run National Dairy Development Board too will be a part of the Foundation.
Ramesh added that foundation will not be a government body, but will run on professional lines, with a chairman and a full-time CEO. "In structure and composition, it will be similar to the Public Health Foundation of India chaired by the Infosys co-founder NR Narayan Murthy."
The foundation will support developmental activities in watershed management, dairy, fisheries, agriculture, etc.
On how the corporates can participate, he said, "Those who pay higher amount as donations, say Rs. 200 crore, can get a board position. But I am sure it will not be a government body and the government will not have any say in its day to day functioning."
BRLF funds will be disbursed to the civil society and NGOs on a need-based manner, he added.
"The move is part of the Budget proposals. The foundation will scale up civil society interventions and transform the lives and livelihoods of the adivasis in these 170 districts spanning Andra Pradesh, Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madya Pradesh,Odisha,Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh," the Minister said.
When asked whether donations to BRLF would be considered as part of CSR initiative, Ramesh answered in the affirmative.
Naxal violence has been on the rise in the recent years.