CHENNAI: Extending the reach of the self-help group (SHG) movement to improve the lives of the urban poor, Local Administration Minister M.K. Stalin will hand over a revolving fund of Rs.10,000 each to 2,000 urban SHGs here on January 22.
This is the first time that urban SHGs are being given revolving funds. So far, this fund and another Rs.15,000 bank credit (for each SHG) were available only to rural SHGs.
There are one lakh urban SHGs in the State. Explaining the rationale behind the move, department officials said that urban SHGs had the potential to generate employment for thousands of unemployed youth, who migrate from rural areas in the search of a livelihood.
As a first step, formation of groups is encouraged. The groups are monitored for six months after which they will be eligible for the revolving fund.
The manner in which the SHG utilises Rs.25,000 (Rs.10,000 from the government and Rs.15,000 credit from banks) will be scrutinised by a committee, comprising government officials, non-governmental organisations and local representatives. Once they are cleared and a satisfactory credit rating is given to them, the SHGs become eligible for a second round of financial aid, which is termed 'economic assistance.' This amount could range from Rs.4 to Rs.5 lakh per SHG.
The Rural Development Department has decided to give identity cards to all SHG members. Once the cards are distributed beginning January 22, the department will have a clear picture on the exact number of members in SHGs in the State.
The identity card will have details of the SHG the member belongs to and brief details of the group and the person. The move will go a long way in checking fraud apart from being a valuable identification document, an official said.
Mr. Stalin wanted the identity cards distributed after the experience with the elected rural local body representatives. The representatives had repeatedly told Mr. Stalin that since they did not have an identity card, they found it difficult to gain access to various offices.
After the identity cards were given to all rural local body representatives, Mr. Stalin suggested that a card on similar lines be done for SHG members too.