States have availed ₹4.07 lakh crore from Rural Infrastructure Development Fund

NEW DELHI: State governments have availed 4.07 lakh crore from the corpus of the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) in projects involving rural connectivity, social sector, agriculture and related sectors, an official said after a review of the scheme by the department of financial services secretary Vivek Joshi.

Ministry of Finance (File Photo/Mint)
Ministry of Finance (File Photo/Mint)

With a focus on rural development, the Modi government has steadily raised the annual corpus of RIDF from 2,000 crore in 1995-96 to 50,000 crore in 2023-24, he said on condition of anonymity.

The Union government set up the fund in 1995-96 under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

“The cumulative corpus has now exceeded 5 lakh crore, with 7.7 lakh rural infrastructure projects encompassing 39 activities in Irrigation, rural connectivity, and social sectors receiving approvals,” he said.

Joshi on Wednesday reviewed projects under the scheme that ranged from identification of projects to addressing issues in site selection, allocating adequate budgets, expediting tender processes and maintaining assets, the official cited above said.

His focus was on enhancing the absorption capacity of implementing departments, timely submission of project completion reports and conducting comprehensive evaluations of impacts and outcomes, the official said.

Post a series of breakout sessions, the workshop identified the need to take up a comprehensive review of RIDF lending policy in view of the requirements of states, the evolution in technology and changes in the rural economy.

Joshi advised NABARD to create a dashboard for project monitoring to be shared with all states, which will help in continuous project evaluation and formulation of annual plans by states, the official said.

The financial services secretary highlighted the role of RIDF as a pivotal force in transforming rural economy and stressed on the need to ensure faster completion of projects older than three years.

The stakeholders meeting on RIDF was also attended by additional secretary, MP Tangirala, senior executives of NABARD and finance secretaries of state and union territories (UT). Tangirala made a detailed presentation on RIDF’s activities and noted suggestions coming out of the deliberation, such as reviewing existing guidelines and processes to speed up project implementations as per the needs of the states.

RIDF was instituted in NABARD with the sole objective of giving low-cost support to state governments and state-owned corporations for developing critical infrastructure in agriculture and allied sectors.

The Budget for FY24 announced the creation of a similar fund for urban infrastructure development – UIDF – under the National Housing Bank (NHB). “States will be encouraged to leverage resources from the grants of the 15th Finance Commission, as well as existing schemes, to adopt appropriate user charges while accessing the UIDF. We expect to make available 10,000 crore per annum for this purpose,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech on February 1.

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