Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY): The Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India has introduced a new sub scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) which was named as “Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)”. Minister of State for Rural Development, Shri Ram Kripal Yadav in parliament said that the main objectives of AGEY are to provide an alternative source of livelihood to the members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) under DAY-NRLM by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas.
Objectives of Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana:
- To provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services like e-rickshaws, 3 and 4 wheeler motor transport vehicles to connect remote villages with the areas having key services and facilities including access to markets, education and health for the overall economic development of the area.
- To empower the women belonging to the self help groups (SHGs) by providing an alternate livelihood by financially helping to operate public transport services in backward rural areas.
Funding of the scheme:
The Community Investment Fund (CIF) provided to Community Based Organization (CBOs) under DAY-NRLM will be utilized to support the SHG members under Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY).
There are 2 ways by which the scheme would be executed. They are
- Interest free loan:
- The beneficiary SHG member will be provided an interest free loan by the CBO from its Community Investment Fund up to Rs.6.50 lakh for purchase of the vehicle
- SHG member shall repay the loan over a maximum period of 6 years and bear all the costs connected with the operation of the vehicle, including annual cost of insurance, road tax, permit cost, maintenance cost and all other running costs of the vehicle
- After successful repayment of the loan, the ownership of the vehicle will be transferred to the SHG member
- Vehicles on lease:
- CBO will own the vehicle and lease it out to an SHG member to operate the vehicle and the member shall pay monthly lease rental to the CBO. Care will be taken by the CBO to ensure that the monthly lease rental fixed is reasonable and supports viability of the operation of the vehicle for the SHG member and the cost of the vehicle is also recovered from the SHG member over a maximum period of 6 years in the form of lease rental.
- While recovering the cost through lease rental, no interest will be charged on the loan amount.
- Annual cost of insurance, road tax, permit cost and maintenance cost including replacement of tyres will be borne by the CBO. The maximum funding for such items shall not exceed Rs. 2.00 lakhs per vehicle per CBO for the duration of the scheme from 2017-18 to 2019-20
- The operating cost of the vehicle and routine maintenance (such as fuel, oil, engine oil, servicing etc.) shall be borne by the SHG member.
Eligibility for Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana:
- The SHG member selected must be literate.
- The SHG member selected should possess a valid commercial driving license to drive the vehicle.
Alternatively, she should have one of her family members possessing a valid commercial license to serve as the driver or employ a person with a valid commercial driving license as driver of the vehicle.
- If the SHG member hires a driver to operate the vehicle, the salary of the driver shall be borne by the SHG member out of earning from the operation of the vehicle
Key matters of the scheme:
- AGEY is set to be implemented in 250 Blocks in the country on pilot basis for a period of over (2017-18 to 2019-20) with each Block provided up to 6 vehicles to operate the transport services. During the current year (2017-18) implementation of the scheme has been so far approved for 52 Blocks in 8 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
- How are the blocks selected for implementing AGEY?
The Blocks will be selected by States from those blocks where National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) is being implemented intensively and where mature CBOs are already functioning.
Guiding factors in the selection of Blocks and routes:
- lack of transportation links and
- Sustainability of service.
- The SHG members should run the vehicle on the approved routes at pre-determined frequency as jointly agreed between the CBO and the SHG operator based on financial viability and the need for transport link.
- In order to avoid the higher maintenance and operating cost, it was decided by the government that only new vehicles shall be purchased. No second-hand vehicle will be purchased for operating the scheme.
- In order to ensure that the identity and to avoid diversion to other routes, all the vehicles under the scheme shall have a defined color code and carry AGEY branding on the body of the vehicle
- The charges per trip will be fixed jointly by the operator and the CBO subject to rules and regulations of the Transport Department of the State Administration
This is one of such initiatives if executed as promised could bring visible changes in the lives of the women running the self help groups. Wish many more such programmes will be launched which will integrate the rural population with the developmental initiative.