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Sonia launches National Rural Livelihood Mission

Banswara (Rajasthan): UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Friday unveiled the National Rural Livelihood Mission to reach out to BPL families through self-help groups and said the network of such groups comprising women will be strengthened.

Terming the NRLM as an ambitious programme of the UPA government, she said its effective implementation all over the country is important and women self-help groups can be strengthened through it.

Launching the scheme in this pre-dominantly tribal district, she said, "The country is rapidly progressing with a strong network of Panchayati Raj institutions due to strong efforts of Rajiv Gandhi. These institutions have almost 10 lakh elected women representatives and the number of SHGs is also increasing with around 50 lakh self-help groups making efforts to improve the condition of women in various states.

"These groups are boosting the confidence of women in rural areas and successfully running group activities like monitoring of primary health centres, social audit of various government-run schemes and programmes, distribution of old age pension, procurement of wheat and rice," she said.

"To make them more effective, a new economic institution is going to be formed by the government and for that, the Finance Ministry has already fixed Rs 500 crore," she told a large gathering of tribals, mostly women, who braved blistering heat to be present at the function.

This tribal region of southern Rajasthan also took a leap forward with Gandhi laying the foundation of Dungarpur-Banswara-Ratlam rail line near Dungarpur Railway Station.

The line will connect the tribal region of Banswara district. The Rs 2,100 crore project is scheduled to be completed within seven years.

Under the project, a 74 km long rail line will be laid and 127 km out of that will pass through Rajasthan, an NWR official said.

The state government has given Rs 1200 crore for the project which was a long pending demand of the tribal region.

It will connect the tribal region from other parts of the country and also prove beneficial for upcoming power project in the region, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said.

At the function, Gandhi unveiled ?mission document? and also handed over a loan approval document of Rs.1400 crore from HUDCO to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to start a housing project for 10-lakh BPL members in the state.

Under the state government project, 10-lakh houses for BPL families would be built in the state in the next three years.

Gandhi noted that the government is in the final stages of finalising the Food Security Bill to eliminate malnutrition and poverty in the country.

Earlier, Gandhi, who arrived by a helicopter, visited an exhibition where women of self help groups from Banswara, Dungarpur, Udaipur and other tribal areas displayed their products at five stalls.

She also interacted with groups of tribal women working in self help groups.

Union Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh, CP Joshi, Kumari Selja, Mukul Wasnik, Sachin Pilot, Namoranrayan Joshi were among those present at the function.

The NRLM is the restructured scheme of the existing Swaranayanti Grameen Swarojgar Yojna and is an ambitious programme of the UPA-II government for poverty alleviation in rural areas. Its aim it to reach out to all rural poor families through SHGs.

The scheme will enhance existing livelihood options for the poor, building skills for job market, and nurture self-employment. It will offer skill development to rural BPL youths and also has provisions for tie up with private sector for placement, livelihood services include financial and capital services, production and productivity enhancement services like technology, knowledge, skills and inputs.

The interested rural BPL youths would be offered skill development after counselling and matching the aptitude with the job requirements. Self employed and entrepreneurial oriented poor would be provided skills and financial linkages and nurtured to establish and grow with micro-enterprises for products and services in demand.

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