: The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned a low-cost loan entailing a concessional interest rate to the State Government for implementing a Rs. 311.46 crore water supply scheme in Madurai district.

The project is expected to benefit around 11.87 lakh residents of rural areas. It would be executed in three phases spread over three years. According to R. Shankar Narayan, NABARD Assistant General Manager, of total project outlay of Rs. 311.46 crore, NABARD's contribution through its Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) loan was Rs. 264.74 crore with the State Government pitching in the remaining Rs. 46.72 crore.

The RIDF scheme was taken up in the 1990s by NABARD for financing rural infrastructure projects due to the decline in public investment in agriculture and the inability of commercial Banks to channelise 18 percent of their total lending to agriculture as mandated by priority sector guidelines due to inadequate infrastructure in rural and agricultural sector. The Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board would implement the project. The schemes would be executed at Alanganallur, Palamedu, Singampunari, Melur and Kottampatti Union in addition to Madurai West, Vadipatti, Madurai East, Thirumangalam, and Tirupparankundram.

The loan was sanctioned under RIDF – 16. The project to be taken up would include a variety of civil works such as gravity mains and branch mains on various tapping points in addition to pumping mains, sumps, and compound walls. As part of the electrical and mechanical works, it will also involve installing open well submersible pumps, he said.

These works were expected to commence during 2011-12 and get completed in 2013-14 financial year. The RIDF loans would be released in tranches based upon progress of works.

As per the terms of the sanction conditions, NABARD would undertake periodic monitoring and assessment to ensure the quality of works, Mr. Shankar Narayan said.