New Delhi, Mar 6 (PTI) Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar today said women self-help groups in rural areas had set an example for the country in repaying loans, as merely 2 per cent of the total advances given to them were not paid back.

Inaugurating the SARAS Aajeevika Mela here, he said the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) was bringing a huge socio-economic transformation in the lives of rural women and it aimed to make them confident, aware and self-dependent.

The fair was organised as part of the NRLM.

“I’m proud to share that our sisters are re-paying the loans and advances given to them on time. Just two per cent of the total advances paid to the women self- help groups are Non-Performing Assets (NPAs),” he said on the sidelines of the event.

These poor women have set an example for the entire country, including corporates, in repaying loans, he added.

The minister said the fair was an attempt to provide a direct marketing platform to rural women producers so that they get proper prices for their products by eliminating middle men.

The ministry was planning to set up 22,000 rural haats all over the country in the next financial year starting April 1, Tomar said.

Sharing the details of the mission, Rural Development Secretary Amarjeet Sinha said out of the five crore women associated with the scheme, about 1.5 crore had direct bank linkages.

Sinha said loans to women self-help groups had jumped to Rs 63,000 crore in the financial year 2017-18 from Rs 23,000 crore in 2014-15 and the NPA for these loans were merely 2.6 per cent.

As part of the fair, about 350 stalls were set up by women self-help groups from different states for the exhibition-cum-sale.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) is one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development to alleviate rural poverty.

The programme aims at mobilising all rural poor women into self managed community institutions such as self-help groups, village organisations, cluster level federations, producer groups/companies, in a phased manner.

The purpose of the mission was to promote financial inclusion of the community institutions and provide support for strengthening and diversification of livelihoods resources of the women member households.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.