Special Correspondent

TIRUVANNAMALAI: The project of linking self-help groups (SHGs) through post offices, launched by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as a pilot project in Sivagangai and Pudukottai districts, has been extended to five panchayat unions in Tiruvannamalai district. They are: Chengam, Kilpennathur, Thurinjapuram, Kalasapakkam and Tiruvannamalai.

With over 1.5 lakh branches across the country, the outreach of the post offices is unmatched.

The NABARD decided to bank on the "neighbourhood friend" image that the postmen enjoy, especially in rural areas, to launch the project aimed at delivering credit to the SHGs.

Inaugurating a two-day training programme on "SHG-Post Office Linkage" to the postal staff in three panchayats here last week, District Collector Satyabrata Sahoo wanted the programme to be extended to the entire district.

Under the programme, the village would be the point of service and the SHG members would be able to get the services cost-effectively and without any hassles.

A total of 12,755 groups covering 2.12 lakh women have been formed by the non-governmental organisations under "Mahalir Thittam" (Women's Project) in the district as on December 31, 2006.

The cumulative savings of these SHGs amounted to Rs.25.77 crore. A total of 9,778 SHGs had availed of the loans to the tune of Rs.71.18 crore, he said.

K.V. Raghavulu, Chief General Manager, NABARD, Tamil Nadu Regional Office, Chennai said that SHGs, linked with post offices, would receive financial assistance at an interest of nine per cent a year.

The NABARD would provide necessary grant for training the SHG members and the postal staff involved in the project.

Entire district

Soon the project would be extended to the entire district, he said.

S. Sankaranarayanan, Assistant General Manager, NABARD, Tiruvannamalai, said that the project would provide a chance to the Department of Posts in providing better services to its rural clientele.

R. Anand, Director of Postal Services, Chennai, S. Balasubramanian, Project Officer, District Rural Development Agency, and Vidya Sagar, Project Officer, Mahalir Thittam, spoke.