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Keys for a bright future

R.K. Radhakrishnan



A VICTORY FOR STATE: Autorickshaws given away by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at the SIDCO function held at the Chennai Trade Centre, Nandambakkam, on Tuesday.

CHENNAI: When Chief Minister Jayalalithaa handed over the keys of an autorickshaw to Mohammed Ali from Coimbatore at the Chennai Trade Centre on Tuesday, it signalled a significant victory for the State Government. Finally, Central funds meant for unemployed youth from minority communities were reaching them.

The funds were there for the asking for over two years, but with a rider. The repayment clause said a bank should take responsibility for the loan. While commercial banks were agreeable to shouldering the responsibility on a case-by-case basis, the clause insisted this could not be done. The loans could only be given to cooperatives run by educated and skilled unemployed persons.

"We had a series of meetings with the banks. They said they could consider only individual cases. They were not willing to take responsibility for the whole cooperative," recalled D. Rajendran, Secretary, Small Industries.

But the Small Industries department did not give up. The first step was formation of cooperatives at Vellore, Coimbatore and Tirunelveli. The Government then asked the Tamil Nadu Industrial Cooperative Bank to step in. The bank gave an undertaking that it would repay the loan to the Centre, regardless of whether it got back the money. Under the scheme meant for providing autorickshaws, 121 persons received the keys of the vehicles on Tuesday. "It has taken a really long while. But we are happy that it finally happened," said Mr. Rajendran.

There is no subsidy involved in the scheme. The Government lends 85 per cent of the funds required at six per cent interest and another 10 per cent at 10 per cent interest. The beneficiary has to chip in with the remaining five per cent.

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