In a bid to improve public transportation in the remote areas of the country, the central government has decided to take help of transport services run by women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Parivahan Yojana which might be launched on Independence Day this year. Also, these groups will be given interest-free loans so that it becomes easier for them to buy vehicles. These vehicles will help in providing transportation to villages, including area affected by Left-wing extremism, where there is a lack of connectivity to main towns.

Amarjeet Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, said, ““We will start by focusing on Left-wing extremism-affected and tribal areas, that are remote and sparsely populated, where there is no mass transport currently available as it is not commercially viable. The 10-12 seater vehicles, bought for up to Rs 8 lakh, can be used for transporting people as well as poultry and agricultural produce to local markets”.

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After the study done by the rural development ministry in Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, it was figured that after charging a minimal fare, the bus owners will be able to pay the interest-free loans and bear other maintenance expenses.

Nagesh Singh, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development said, “It was the Finance Ministry which proposed that it should be taken up by the Rural Development Ministry as a livelihood programme by involving women SHGs”.

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This scheme which will first be rolled out in 250 backward blocks has been approved by the Expenditure Finance Committee and it has been estimated that initial investment would cost around Rs 127 crore.

(Source: The Indian Express)

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