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Wednesday, Sep 04, 2002

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3.32 lakh families covered under IBRD-aided project

Our Bureau

HYDERABAD, Sept. 3

VELUGU, meaning light, a Rs 2,835-crore World Bank-aided project, aims to double and possibly triple the income levels of the poorest of the poor families in Andhra Pradesh.

The average annual income of these families today stood at Rs 6,000, according to Mr K. Raju, Chief Executive Officer of the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), the implementing agency of the project.

The main objective of the project, claimed to be the biggest of its kind in Asia, is to enable the poor to strengthen and secure their asset base for enhancing their livelihoods and quality of life, through their own organisations at grassroots level.

The project envisages covering 26.2 lakh families across the State by 2008. Started in June 2000, the first phase of the project, estimated to cost Rs 585 crore, ends by 2006. The second phase, costing Rs 2,250 crore, commenced in June 2002, and will continue up to December 2008.

However, the State Minister for Information Technology and Employment Generation, Mr B. Gopala Krishna Reddy, said that the programme would continue till 2020 and would not end after the execution of Phase II.

Mr Raju told newspersons here on Tuesday that so far 3.32 lakh families were covered under the project. Over 35,000 children, engaged in child labour, were admitted to schools.

A total of 6.2 lakh families in 180 mandals of six districts would be covered under the first phase, while the coverage would extend to 20 lakh families in 500 mandals in the remaining 16 districts during the second phase.

Mr Raju explained that Velugu supplemented and did not substitute any on-going poverty alleviation programmes in the State. It would enable the target beneficiaries to develop a six-year perspective plan and provide funds directly to organisations of the poor at village level.

The State Project Coordinator, Mr T. Vijay Kumar, said that Velugu was focussing on plugging income leakages of the poorest of the poor. Efforts were being made to ensure that the poor got the right price for their produce and were able to procure inputs of right quality and quantity.

In this regard, tie-ups between the beneficiary organisations and procurement companies were being arranged.

For instance, he said, in Mahboobnagar district, a tie-up with Hindustan Lever Ltd was being sought for the purchase of castor. Similarly, a meeting of the manufacturers of ayurvedic products would be convened in November, this year to explore the possibility of such tie-ups.

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