Rajasthan Urban Programme: 98% of pledged loans on hold
IN HIS budget speech last year, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced interest-free loans to street vendors, service sector youths, unemployed and self-employed under the Indira Gandhi Shehri Yojana (IGSCCY) credit card, as part of a special Covid -19 relief package.
A recent government response to the Assembly showed that up to February 3 this year, the government had received 2.40 lakh of applications and disbursed loans at only 4,566 (or 1.82%) . The aim, as stated by Gehlot, was to provide loans of up to Rs 50,000 to 5 lakh people, until March 31, 2022, with the government paying the full amount of interest. The sanction had to be pronounced within 25 days of the request.
The government response indicating the low disbursement came to a question posed by Congresswoman Meena Kanwar.
The circular announcing the scheme by the Ministry of Finance, in August last year, stated: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, options such as MNREGS are available in rural areas. The IGSCCY is implemented to make employment/self-employment available in urban areas and to make financial resources available for daily living needs.
The target groups included street vendors as well as other people providing essential services in the informal sector such as hairdressers, rickshaw drivers, potters, shoemakers, tailors, painters, plumbers and electricians.
Credit institutions could include regular commercial banks, regional rural banks, small financial banks, cooperative banks and non-bank financial companies.
Data provided in the state government response shows that the estimated number of beneficiaries under the jurisdiction of various urban local bodies across the state was 5.02 lakh.
Rani Mali, who sells vegetables from a cart in Udaipur, said she applied for a loan under the scheme in October last year but has yet to receive the money. Recently, she said, she received a message from the Local Self-Government Department that the request had been forwarded to the relevant bank.
“I had thought that with the loan amount, we would expand our business, buy more vegetables. We suffered immense losses during the pandemic and we hoped the loan would help us recover,” said Mali, a mother of two.
Officials said applications were pending on the banks’ side. “The program officially started in October last year. Bank head offices map each new scheme and then the relevant branch manager gets access for disbursement. Sometimes it takes two to three months depending on the bank,” said Bhanwar Lal Bairwa, project officer at the Department of Local Self-Government, adding that there is a good chance the program will be extended beyond March 31. .
In its response to the Assembly, the government stated that efforts were being made for the disbursement of outstanding loans by organizing meetings with banks and bankers’ committees.