The cash strapped state of Punjab on Tuesday got an economic boost with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural development (NABARD) has sanctioned and disbursed an amount of Rs 8,000 Crore for agriculture and rural development in the state.

Chief General Manager, NABARD Punjab, Deepak Kumar said that the development financial institution is catering to agriculture and rural development has served the sector in a steadfast manner while releasing the 2017-18 financials.

In order to promote capital formation in agriculture, NABARD provided refinance of Rs 2,249.67 Crore to various participating banks and re-finance of Rs 5,258.26 Crore was provided under short term loans for facilitating disbursement of crop loans at a concessional interest rate to the farmers by co-operative banks and Regional Rural Banks.

Kumar has mentioned that NABARD is supporting for rural infrastructure development to the state government under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF). The state government was sanctioned assistance of Rs 444.82 Crore under RIDF for creation of critical rural infrastructure facilities in the state.

The major project sanctioned under RIDF were 6571 additional class rooms for primary middle, high and senior secondary schools in rural area in the state. Adding to it, 1500 RO systems for rural high and senior secondary schools will be provided.

Deepak Kumar indicated that paddy straw burning is a big issue in Punjab which results not only in emission of harmful gases like methane, CO2 and N2O, but also affects agriculture productivity adversely besides also affecting milch and horticulture yields.

Kumar added that some initiatives taken by NABARD to check paddy straw burning in the state with partner agencies like Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana and the NGOs in various districts of Punjab.

The initiatives covered an area of around 4,600 acres involving about 1,900 farmers spanning over seven districts, and there was not a single instance of paddy straw burning. The demonstration effect is likely to increase the coverage to more than 10,000 acres during the next harvest season, he added.

CGM, NABARD said, Punjab has indicated that financial inclusion is big task for NABARD. He said under Financial Inclusion Fund, NABARD has sanctioned grant support of Rs 11.80 Crore to the banks for widening and deepening of financial inclusion in the state through strengthening the banking information technology and capacity building.

He indicated that NABARD proposed to provide financial assistance of about Rs 9,800 Crore in Punjab during 2018-19.