Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Friday presented the Manimekalai awards to five panchayat-level federations (PLFs) and 10 self-help groups (SHGs) in recognition of their contribution to the movement to empower rural women.

The five award-winning federations, Chettipulam PLF in Nagapattinam district; Vadaputhupatti PLF in Theni district; Swamithoppu PLF in Kaniyakumari; Velur PLF in Pudukottai and Periyapillaivalasai PLF in Tirunelveli district were presented a cash award of Rs. 3 lakh each.

“In the Vadaputhupatti panchayat, the federation helps the beneficiaries of government schemes, like old age pensioners, widows, poor farmers, among others to fill the forms, attach required certificates and interact with the bureaucracy to obtain the much needed financial assistance,” says B. Gopi, assistant project officer, Mahalir Thittam, Theni. The federation has built about 225 toilets under the total sanitation scheme and have pooled in about Rs. 6 lakh to grant loans to the members as it takes some time to obtain loans from banks. Functioning more like an NGO, the federation had formed over a 100 SHGs in 2010, he said.

At Chettipulam PLF in Nagapattinam district, officials said the savings of the federation had been quite good, allowing them to purchase land to have an office for the federation. The federation also gave land for construction of an overhead tank in the panchayat, officials said.

Mr. Stalin also presented cash awards of Rs.1 lakh each to 10 best performing SHGs in the State. Kannathal SHG in Krishnagiri district was chosen for its savings record and business models, said Saraswathi Ganesan, project officer, Mahalir Thittam. Apart from increasing the savings 118 times in the past six years, the SHG runs a canteen, purified water business and a lathe machine workshop, she said. Ayyappan Nagar No.1 SHG in Tiruvallur district has a 100 per cent repayment record.

The group members are also involved in social activities such as cleaning up the area, providing free notebooks to poor students and in health-related activities.

The best performing PLF at the district level will be awarded Rs. 1 lakh each and 3 SHGs an award of Rs. 25,000 each by the respective District Collectors, an official release said.

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Health & LifestyleSeptember 24, 2010