Welcoming the introduction of new schemes under the ambit of RIDF by NABARD, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today urged country’s apex development bank to pool in more finances in the revenue-generating horticulture and handicraft sectors, which form the backbone of state’s rural economy. He also sought NABARD’s active support in creation of productive assets and broadening the scope of technical cooperation in skill development projects. The Chief Minister said this during his meeting with the Chairman of NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, who called on him here this evening. Placing high priority on fully utilizing funds allocated under NABARD schemes, Mufti Sayeed said both horticulture and handicraft sectors require a stimulus package to realize its full potential. He sought financial support from NABARD to lift the sectors by funding MIS (Market Intervention Scheme) as well as weather-based crop insurance for artisans, farmers and fruit growers. “It was our handicraft industry, in particular carpet weaving, paper machie and wood work, that resuscitated our economy during the years of turbulence,” he stated. On the issue of imparting skills to youth to enhance their employability, the Chief Minister asked NABARD to sponsor two Skill Training Centres for Excellence, one each in Jammu and Kashmir Divisions. The Chief Minister evinced keen interest on new UN framework for funding of climate change projects for which NABARD, amongst others, has been accredited by UN as the only agency from South East Asia. He urged Chairman NABARD to explore possibility of funding projects up to Rs. 100 to 150 crore in afforestation, flood protection and livelihood, keeping in view the adverse impact of climate change that saw J&K witness last year one of the worst floods in its history. Laying importance on the need for a recapitalization plan to recuperate the three District Cooperative Banks in Jammu, Anantnag and Baramulla, Mufti Sayeed said revival of cooperative movement is vital for growth and sustenance of rural economy in the state. He said the Government will vigorously pursue with Centre for allowing the state to credit its share of Rs. 139 crore in multiple tranches so that the capital infusion from Centre helps revive the ailing cooperative banks. “For a state with weak resource base, it will be difficult to provide such a huge sum in one go,” he said. Calling upon NABARD to prioritize financial support to the state so as to reduce the drawable gap of Rs.590 crore for ongoing projects under RIDF XIII to XX, the Chief Minister took up the issue of raising J&K’s loan allocation under NABARD for the current financial year, pegged at Rs. 419 crore, which is the same as last year. The state was able to lift Rs. 365.71 crore in 2014-15 against loan allocation of Rs. 419 crore. Handing out an assurance to NABARD on full utilization of funds sourced, the Chief Minister directed all Line Departments to expedite submission of UCs (Utilization Certificates) and new projects for sanction to facilitate lifting the entire loan component from NABARD this year. The NABARD Chairman informed the Chief Minister that NABARD has provided nearly Rs.1,000 crore for executing ongoing projects in the state, including Rs. 350 crore, under RIDF (Rural Infrastructure Development Fund). He also briefed the Chief Minister about the new RIDF scheme of setting up Automated Weather Stations in agricultural belts in the state, which will help the farming community to obtain advance weather advisories on their mobile phones. “Under RIDF, 10 MW solar projects with grid and mini-hydel projects up to 25 MW will also be financed in J&K,” he said while highlighting the potential of hydel power generation in the state. The meeting also utilized the opportunity to discuss NABARD’s commitments to J&K and a better mechanism for proper utilization of funds allocated and introduction of new schemes under RIDF in the state. In the last financial year, the Planning Department had recommended 90 new projects pertaining to Public Works, PHE / I&FC, Health, Agriculture and Animal / Sheep Husbandry departments costing Rs. 320.20 crore for sanction against which NABARD has sanctioned 115 projects worth Rs. 307.91 crore, which also include projects recommended during 2013-14. New projects worth Rs. 28 crore pertaining to Agriculture and Animal / Sheep Husbandry Departments have also been recommended for sanction during the current fiscal under RIDF-XXI. So far, NABARD has sanctioned 4837 RIDF infrastructure projects in the state under RIDF I to XX and disbursed Rs. 4030.35 crore up to ending March, 2015. Dr. Bhanwal assured the Chief Minister that he will prioritize all issues raised during the meeting to ensure better implementation of the schemes run by the agency. Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, and Chief General Manager, NABARD, Shankar A. Pande, were also present on the occasion.
2015 Kashmir Despatch