Staff Reporter

Under Tamil Nadu Afforestation Project Phase –II in select villages in Tiruchi, Perambalur districts

To those residing in the “project villages”

With a view to improving their

socio-economic lot

TIRUCHI: Alongside carrying out afforestation activities under the Tamil Nadu Afforestation Project (TAP) scheme Phase –II in select villages in Tiruchi and Perambalur districts, the State Forest Department through the Social Forestry Division, Tiruchi, has distributed loans and revolving funds to identified beneficiaries residing in the “project villages” with a view to improving their socio-economic lot.

Over 750 individuals and 32 self-help groups have been provided with loans over the past four years under Phase –II of the TAP Scheme which is being implemented from 2005-06 with Japanese financial assistance and involving the local community.

Loans to the tune of Rs. 77. 23 lakhs had been distributed to individual beneficiaries and self-help group members since 2005-06 through the Village Forest Committee (VFC) constituted in the 20 “project villages” in Tiruchi and Perambalur districts that includes Narasingapuram, Sengattupatti, Katrankulam and Ranganathapuram.

The VFC comprises a male and female member from each household in the project villages besides a Range Officer of the State Forest Department and a representative of the non-governmental organisation. The VFC is a grass root level institution formed on the principles of Joint Forestry Management in the project villages for management and protection of “regenerated areas”.

The individual beneficiaries and self-help groups had utilised the loans for purchase of milch cows and in involving in micro-level business ventures such as manufacture of washing and cleaning powders, brick making, artificial jewellery making and vermi-compost manufacture.

A non-governmental organisation was helping the beneficiaries in marketing the manufactured products, says the Divisional Forest Officer, Social Forestry Division, Tiruchi, Deepak Srivasthava.

The VFCs, which maintain bank account and loan recovery register, had recovered Rs. 42.84 lakhs up to April 2009 from the beneficiaries who had obtained the department loans.

The recovered amount was distributed as revolving fund to individuals and self help groups for sustaining their economic activities. Mr. Srivasthava said Rs. 36.35 lakhs were distributed as revolving fund to 405 individuals and five groups till now since 2005-06.

The amount recovered up to April 2009 was Rs. 17.56 lakhs with recovery rate being 48 per cent.

He said departmental loans amounting to Rs. 36.61 lakhs was distributed during the financial year 2008-09 alone and the amount recovered during the last six months was Rs 15.33 lakhs.

The Social Forestry Division, Tiruchi had planted lakhs of saplings in the “project villages” under the Phase –II of the five-year TAP scheme, he added.