CHENNAI: Members of a newly-formed Self Help Group (SHG) in Tiruvallur district are literally helping themselves when it comes to attending State-sponsored training sessions. Besides a poor travel allowance to commute 20 to 30 kms for their training, they also are allegedly put up in a poorly-ventilated hall, along with several others, flouting all Covid-19 norms.
The SHGs are formed under the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM) programme, in which, women are trained to understand the basics of banking, how they can avail loans, understand interests, besides holding sessions on skill development and starts-up. To attend the training programme, women from various villages are asked to commute to the Block Development Office, situated at a distance from their villages.
“They only give us a travel allowance of `25 a day. This includes bus fare, tea or coffee costs, and food costs. How will this be sufficient?” asks Kamala*, an SHG member from Erumbi Panchayat. She needs to travel up to 10 km to reach RK Pet, where the BDO is located.
Vidya*, another SHG member from Ammaiyarkuppam Panchayat, said she travels up to five kms to reach the BDO. “There are a handful of women in our panchayat itself who are in SHGs,” she said. Either the training can be held in the villages or the allowance must be hiked to `150, added Vidya.
Nowadays when most meetings are held online, Thamilarasu, a local activist, wondered why officials are asking SHG members to travel such a distance for the same. “Before the pandemic, the training was held in the village only. Now, they are grouping SHG members from various villages into one place for their convenience,” he said.
Meanwhile, SRLM officials from the district, said only a few people had come forward earlier to attend the training while it was held at villages. “We needed to mobilise them at one place to cut wastage on resources. Once we identify and create more groups, we will see if we can hold classes in their villages,” the official said, adding that members from new SHGs are asked to come in only twice before being left on their own.
The SRLM aims to identify and mobilise women from poor sections and create a self-help group to provide them with better work opportunities. They are trained for skill development, accounting and other basic livelihood skills.