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West Bengal govt targets rural woman with Rs 700 crore SHG scheme

india Updated: Mar 11, 2018 14:09 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Rural Women,Bengal,Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a rally organised to mark International Women's Day, in Kolkata on Thursday.(PTI)

The West Bengal government has decided to launch a Rs 700-crore project to bring 50 lakh women from rural Bengal under the self help group (SHG) model, in a bid to reach out to village women of the state, who form a huge voter base.

According to West Bengal co-operation minister, Arup Roy, around two lakh SHGs are already in operation in the state and around 50 lakh women are already associated with the existing SHGs.

“Our target is to bring another 50 lakh rural women under the scheme by helping them to open another two lakh SHGs. This process will be completed during the financial year 2018- 19,” Roy said, announcing the project.

The scheme will have three phases. The first phase will be identification of women who are not currently covered under SHG network, and arrange for their training, the cost of which will be borne by the state cooperation department.

The second phase is providing them loans from different cooperative banks and cooperative societies at low rates of interest. The final phase is promoting and marketing the products of these SHGs through outlets and network of different state government departments like agriculture marketing, food & supplies and small & medium industries department, among others.

A senior Trinamool Congress leader, who did not wish to be named, explained the rationale and the shrewd timing of the scheme.

“Although the project will start before the three-tier panchayat polls scheduled in June this year, it will not take a full shape before the rural body polls. However, when the scheme will start reaping benefits for the beneficiaries by the end of the current financial year of 2018-19, the 2019 Lok Sabha polls will be knocking at the doors,” he said.

Interestingly, while addressing the core committee meeting of Trinamool on March 9, state chief minister, Mamata Banerjee had said that her focus now was 2019 Lok Sabha polls, as she had handed over the responsibility of panchayat polls to party leaders.

Banerjee had telephonic conversations with DMK acting president, MK Stalin and Telengana chief minister, K Chandrashekar Rao, and a meeting with NCP leader, Praful Patel at the state secretariat of Nabanna on Friday.

She is also expected to be present at the two-day meeting convened by NCP chief Sharad Pawar at New Delhi on March 17 and March 18, where the possibilities of creation of an united anti-BJP platform is expected to be discussed.

According to West Bengal Swarojgar Corporation Ltd chairman and Trinamool MLA, Pulak Roy, this scheme will be an extension of the chief minister’s dream for development of the women of West Bengal and making them self-reliant.

“Already her project Kanyashree has received accolades from the global forum. I am sure that this project will be a major milestone in making the rural women of Bengal self-reliant,” he said.

First Published: Mar 11, 2018 14:01 IST