Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The Ministry of Rural Development has recommended to the Centre to replicate the Andhra Pradesh model of implementing 3 per cent interest on loans being extended to self-help groups.

Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said on Tuesday that he had written to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to consider the Andhra Pradesh model. "When the Andhra Pradesh Government can successfully implement it, why can't other States replicate the model," he reasoned at a press conference here.

The Minister attended the executive council meeting of the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) at Rajendranagar. "The Rural Development Ministry is keen on reducing the interest rates on loans to thrift groups," he said, hoping the Centre would include it in the 11th Plan.

Mr. Prasad said Andhra Pradesh stood first in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP). Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were doing a good job and termed the launch of the programme in 200 districts a "good beginning."

He said the Centre had drawn up an ambitious plan to spend Rs. 48,000 crore in four years to improve rural road connectivity under the Prime Minister's Grameen Sadak Yojana. The Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Programme would ensure free power connection to all BPL families. The Minister said NIRD had been entrusted with preparation of reports on socio-economic problems in villages under the 555 naxal-affected police stations. Another NIRD research work would focus on ensuring better marketing linkage for SHG products and bring awareness on water conservation and adoption of bio-diesel.