Naveen announces interest-free loans for women self-help groups

Puri, Jan 5: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Saturday announced interest-free loans of up to Rs 3 lakh for women self-help groups (WSHGs) in the state.

        He made the announcement when addressing the ‘Mission Shakti’ convention here, which was attended by about 50,000 women from various parts of the state.

        There are around six lakh WSHGs in Odisha.

        “I am glad to let you know that you (WSHGs) will be getting loans at zero per cent interest,” the chief minister said, adding that the initiative would benefit about 70 lakh women.

        The announcement came hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Baripada in Mayurbhanj district to launch a basket of central government projects worth over Rs 4,500 crore.

        Patnaik has decided to skip the PM’s programme, sources in the CM’s office said.

        The chief minister also distributed financial assistance of Rs 3,000 each to six lakh WSHGs as part of the state government’s efforts to digitally empower women.

        During the ‘Make in Odisha’ conclave in November last year, Patnaik had promised smartphones to six lakh WSHGs.

        During the convention, Patnaik launched a scheme to distribute Rs 15,000 seed money per group to three lakh new SHGs. He also handed over revolving fund of Rs 25 lakh to 338 block federations.

        The CM announced incentives of Rs 500 per month for anganwadi workers and Rs 200 for helpers.

        The ‘Mission Shakti’ programme was launched in 2001 and it has taken the form of a “silent movement” in the state during the last 18 years, he said.

        In a bid to strengthen the programme, the Odisha government has decided to build ‘Mission Shakti Home’ in each gram panchayat across the state.

        Meanwhile, as a security measure in view of Patnaik’s visit to Puri, police took Jagannath Sena convenor Priyadarshan Patnaik into preventive custody.

        The BJP top brass has been making frequent visits to Odisha, where assembly elections are due along with Lok Sabha polls this year.

        BJP president Amit Shah has set a target of winning 120 of the 147 assembly seats in the state.

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