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Southern States - Tamil Nadu-Chennai

Govt. to fund SHGs to set up Internet kiosks

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI April 28. The Government has decided to fund women's self-help groups to set up Internet kiosks in villages as it sees SHGs as an ideal vehicle to carry poverty alleviation programmes, according to the Director of Rural Development, S. Ayyar.

`Self-reliance' was the prime course to increase jobs and improve village economy. The Government was pleased that more than a lakh SHGs had come up in Tamil Nadu.

These groups along with elected women members of local bodies could bring about a remarkable change in rural development.

``It was time women got an opportunity to perform, even perhaps out-do men,'' Mr. Ayyar said at a function organised here on Friday by the Tamil Nadu Foundation Inc., State chapter, to donate computers to selected village panchayats of Tiruvallur district.

The Government was keen on tapping the potential of information technology. The Rs. 50 crores allotted this year to set up Internet-based information kiosks would be allotted to the women SHGs. If the SHGs were unable to take up the task, the kiosks would be given to others.

He said the Government spent Rs. 1,200 crores of Central and State funds for rural development every year. Still, poverty alleviation achieved by self-support and self-reliance remained the only way for village development.

``I can only appeal to elected panchayat leaders to assist us in the task. Already, I have told the rural development department officers to shun the idea that they are controllers of panchayat heads, but facilitators for development and poverty alleviation...the elected heads should not look at work contracts but ways to achieve development,'' Mr. Ayyar said.

A retired civil servant, V. Ramamoorthy, who inaugurated a day-long programme where over a dozen panchayat leaders were exposed to use of information technology/computers, stressed the need for achieving self-reliance.

The TNF secretary, P. Chandrasekaran, said the foundation, started by Tamils in the U.S. helped in several educational ventures in the State, particularly computer education.

It conducted seminars on the potential and power of IT in village administration for panchayat leaders, using representatives of IT educators and NGOs.

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