Huge demand from State govts for funds to set up hospitals, medical colleges
As the Covid-19 pandemic starved State governments, cooperative banks and other agencies that depend on it for funds, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) has re-engineered its functioning to hasten the process of sanctioning project proposals. This has helped the State governments and other agencies to roll out the projects faster during the pandemic.
“From the time a full-fledged project proposal reaches us, it should not take not more than five days at the head office to get the approval. This has helped the States to fast track the project rollouts,” GR Chintala, Chairman of Nabard, told BusinessLine.
The bank has brought in IT applications to increase the pace of approvals. “Earlier, there used to be no fixed timelines (to approve the project proposals). Now, it should be under five days,” he said. The bank, which reported a growth rate of 24 per cent in the pandemic hit 2020-21 to reach a business of ₹6.50-lakh crore, has set a target of ₹7.5-lakh crore.
Push for better health infra
“What we noticed is a huge uptick in the demand from the State governments for developing and creating medical education and health infrastructure,” he said.
The pandemic, he said, has highlighted the need for better healthcare infrastructure to tackle the challenge much better. Besides the regular demand for RIDF funds in the areas of connectivity, irrigation and agriculture, the Nabard has seen a new demand for funds from the States for setting up hospitals and medical colleges.
“For the first time, all of the ₹30,000 crore earmarked for the fund had been exhausted during the pandemic year. Seeing the huge appetite for funds under this head, we have requested the Union government to increase the size of the fund. We got the nod to increase it to ₹40,000 crore for this year,” he said.
As against a target of ₹40,000 crore, the Nabard has already completed sanctions worth ₹25,000 crore so far. “We are confident that we will achieve the target and seek for more funds for disbursal in the next financial year,” he said.
The bank also witnessed a spike in demand for funds under the NIDA (Nabard Infrastructure Development Assistance). “Last year, we sanctioned about ₹22,000 crore under NIDA. Many State governments tapped this fund to set up medical colleges and infrastructure,” he said.