The scheme that won Congress Mizoram
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What does the scheme seek to achieve?
The basic aim is to stop traditional slash-and-burn cultivation by providing an alternative, mainly through financial and logistical support. It has, however, come to encompass a wider objective by providing start-up funds of Rs 1 lakh each (promised in instalments both in cash and kind) to families of farmers, small businessmen or small industrialists.
How does it work?
Beneficiaries can choose from any of 53 trades ranging from growing specific crops to setting up a shop, rearing animals or building small manufacturing units. Funds are allocated by the department under whose purview the trade falls. It is the beneficiaries, not government employees, who choose the trade from a list identified for their geographical areas. Also, it is a board, not bureaucrats, who look after disbursement of funds. The instalments are in either cash or kind. For example, if a beneficiary wants to raise cows, she is given money to build a shelter, then provided cows and then money for feed. The government calls NLUP one of the first direct transfer schemes as funds go directly into bank accounts, and sometimes through cheques.
Who stand to benefit?
Any family without a member holding a government job is eligible. The government roped in civil society organisations to identify potential beneficiary families and also keep out those already well-off and earning from nongovernmental sources. In reality, however, many such people are beneficiaries.
What is the scheme's reach?
Till date, 1.2 lakh families have been given NLUP funds through four phases, although apart from a few trades in the non-agricultural sector, the vast majority have only just received part of the funds with instalments still pending. Given Mizoram's population is 11 lakh, these 1.2 lakh families would make up a large chunk of the population.
Who funds it?