Staff Reporter

Areas for infrastructure development identified

MADURAI: The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has identified certain core areas in Madurai district having potential for promoting infrastructure development in a big way by the State Government.

The areas can be developed by utilising financial assistance under the NABARD's Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).

For instance, the district, identified as an Agri Export Zone for mangoes, could do better if a cold storage chain containing facilities like grading, sorting, packaging, transport system, etc., is established. Setting up of an exclusive processing facility with common service centre under RIDF could help mango growers ensure value addition, according to the Assistant General Manger of NABARD, R. Srinivasan.

Mr. Srinivasan, who is also the Development Officer for Madurai district, has identified the requirement for infrastructure development in several vital areas and evolved a plan of action for implementing RIDF.

The areas include crop loan, minor irrigation, land development, farm mechanisation, plantation and horticulture, forestry and wasteland development, animal husbandry, fisheries, storage godowns and market yards, non-conventional energy sources and non-farm sector.

Speaking to The Hindu here on Tuesday, Mr. Srinivasan said assistance under RIDF was provided to the State Government at 6.5 per cent rate of interest. The projects were implemented through various departments and these soft loans were extended to construct rural infrastructure projects pending completion for want of resources.

Rural infrastructure components

The components of rural infrastructure, like electricity, road connectivity, drinking water supply, health, education, communication, and components for agriculture infrastructure, including irrigation, productivity and market connectivity, ultimately aimed at reducing poverty levels.

NABARD has extended an assistance of Rs.82.2 crore (out of a total outlay of Rs.92.86 crore) towards facilitating infrastructure development in the rural areas of Madurai district. In all, works on 193 roads to a distance of 561.57 km, 19 bridges, 21 irrigation projects, 65 rainwater harvesting structures, buildings for 20 schools, nine drinking water structures, 46 veterinary projects and a shandy in a panchayat union have been envisaged.

Nilayur channel

A noteworthy project is the Nilayur channel being implemented through Public Works Department. Rs.18.27 crore is the contribution of NABARD under its RIDF out of a total cost of Rs.19.79 crore. So far, NABARD has released Rs.17.35 crore.

Once completed, the project will help irrigate 4027 hectares of land benefiting farmers of Madurai, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram districts.

Irrigation dam in Sedapatti

Similarly, the construction of an irrigation dam across the Ayyanarkoil Odai in Sedapatti for Rs.7.5 crore will help irrigate 750 acres of dry land and recharge hundreds of wells. NABARD has released Rs.2.15 crore the project.

The district has been graded A+ in rural electrification, road density, number of transport vehicles, irrigated area to net cropped area, percentage of area irrigated through ground water, number of tube wells per 100 hectares of cropped area, number of telephone lines per hundred population, improving birth rate, water supply, production of paddy, groundnut and sugarcane and teacher-pupil ratio among other things.