Loans at 3 pc interest rates to VSS being considered: CM

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Hyderabad, Jan 21 (UNI) The Andhra Pradesh Government is seriously considering to extend loans at three per cent interest (Pavala vaddi) rates to Vana Samarakshna Samithis (VSS) on par with Self Help Women Groups in the state.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy here today while reviewing the activities of VSS and also attended by Forests Minister S Vijayarama Raju and senior officials of the forest department.

The Chief Minister directed EFST Department Special Chief Secretary Janaki Kondapi to formulate a scheme for value-addition of the VSS activities by arranging bank linkage at three per cent interest.

Directing her to take steps to ground at least 100 VSS units by February 25, this year, Dr Reddy said the units should be encouraged to take up dairying, goat and sheep rearing apart from their regular vocation for generating additional income.

The meeting decided to allow the tribals to sell their Non-Timber Forest Products like tamarind and other forest products outside also so as to enable them to get handsome prices and more income.

At present, the Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC) alone was purchasing the products from them and that too in fixed quantities.

''The GCC, while continuing its present activities, should also fix Minimum Support Price (MSP) for forest products so that tribals could get reasonable prices for their products and even more than MSP rates some times,'' he said.

The Chief Minister directed the Forests Minister and EFST Special Chief Secretary to work out the proposals by discussing with the Tribal Welfare Ministry and Law officials in this regard.

He said development of the tribals was important and evinced interest in formulating such schemes for their betterment.

Referring to the Government's decision to allot Pattas to tribals, who were cultivating forest lands for years together, the Chief Minister said he wanted to encourage them to take coffee, rubber and cashew plantation for income generation apart from tree plantation for enhancing tree coverage in their lands.

It was also decided to declare an area of 20 to 30 sq km as elephant sanctuary in Srikakulam district by consulting the Centre in order to rehabilitate the pachyderms crossing from Orissa border into the state. The Centre would bear the entire cost for this, including relief and rehabilation (R&R) package.


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