Dutta Jadhav, Loksatta
Pune : Started 2020-21 in collaboration with World Bank. The future of Balasaheb Thackeray Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (SMART) is in the dark. Due to lack of sufficient manpower, the work of the project has not yet picked up speed. In a recent meeting held in Mumbai, the issue of insufficient manpower was taken seriously by the representative of the World Bank, and if the manpower is not provided by the end of October, the project will be closed. Even if the manpower is made available, the implementation of the project will start only after restructuring, the state government and the agriculture department have opened their ears in such clear terms.
A review of the various projects going on in the country in collaboration with the World Bank was recently conducted in Mumbai. The meeting was held in the presence of representatives of the Finance Department of the Central Government, representatives of the concerned states and representatives of the World Bank. Nanaji Deshmukh Agricultural Sanjeevani Project (POKRA) and Smart Project are going on in the state in collaboration with World Bank. The World Bank expressed its satisfaction with the work of Poker. However, eighteen months after the start of the SMART project, even adequate manpower has not been allocated to SMART, so the project has yet to gain momentum.
The World Bank has taken the issue of insufficient manpower seriously and has warned that the project will be closed if manpower is not provided by the end of October. Moreover, the representative of the World Bank has also expressed a clear opinion that even if the manpower is provided, the project will have to be restructured.
An assurance has been given to the World Bank on behalf of the state government that manpower will be made available soon.
What is the purpose of the project?
The main objective of the project is to provide farmers with access to domestic and global markets. Necessary technical assistance to farmers, financial assistance for infrastructure facilities are provided under this project. The duration of the project is seven years. (2020-21 to 2026-27). The total cost of the project is Rs 2100 crore. A total of Rs 2100 crore will be raised through World Bank loan 1470 crores, State Government share 560 crores and 70 crores through Private Enterprise Sector (CSR). Emphasis has been placed on developing the agricultural value chain.
Smart project work has gained momentum. The State Government, Agriculture Secretary and Commissioner have provided manpower with personal attention. There are still some vacancies, they will be filled immediately.
– Dasaratha Tambhale, Director, Smart project