Paving the way for enrolment of two-thirds of rural women in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Cabinet has drastically relaxed norms for the Centre-sponsored ‘Umeed’ project, part of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). As a special case, the criterion of the Below Poverty Level [BPL] has been dispensed with and replaced by a process of participatory identification of the poor [PIP].

Authoritative sources said the Union Cabinet held a meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday and granted sanction for special norms in the NRLM exclusively for the success of the Rs.755-crore ‘Umeed’ project.

“Replacing the BPL with PIP will clear the decks for constitution of 90,000 Self Help Groups and enrolment of nine lakh rural women in the State,” a top-level source in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat said. “More significantly, the Union Cabinet has also changed the NRLM funding pattern from the existing 75:25 to 90:10 in favour of J&K”.

Sources said the Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who had been strongly pleading this case, faxed a letter to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to inform him that the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre had approved the new norms exclusively for J&K. Mr. Ramesh has asserted that the Centre was keen to make ‘Umeed’ a great success for empowerment and employment of women.

‘More staff needed’

“I want to assure you that we will continue to provide you all professional assistance for the success of ‘Umeed’ like we are doing in the case of ‘Himayat’. But there has to be a certain core staff for the mission that includes, most importantly, a full-time Mission Director, two full-time Additional Mission Directors, [at least one of these three should ideally be a woman]. We also need at least 8 to 10 professional staff at the State level”, Mr. Ramesh told Mr. Abdullah in a letter accessed by The Hindu .

“Of course, similar staff will have to be recruited at each district as and when they roll out. Of course, it goes without saying that the younger the staff, the better off we all are.”

Launched last year and currently in progress in four blocks — Khansahab (Budgam), Lar (Ganderbal), Chinani (Udhampur) and Basohli (Kathua) — ‘Umeed’ is being extended to all the 143 blocks.

  • The Rs.755-cr. project will be launched after J&K appoints Mission Director

  • Funding pattern has been changed from 75:25 to 90:10 for the strife-torn State