The cooperative societies have a significant role in the rural economy of Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh has the distinction of being the pioneer in co‑operatives in the country. The first Cooperative Society in India was formed at village Panjawar in Una Distt. of the State in 1892. State since then, the Cooperative Movement has not only transformed the socio-economic life of the community, but has also provided self employment opportunities to the weaker sections, women and youths through self help groups. The funds generated through the cooperatives have also assisted the Government in the economic development of the State.
The Cooperative movement had been given importance in providing impetus to the various sections of the society even during the formulation of First Five Year Plan in the state. At that time, there were only 843 cooperative societies in the State, with membership of 25000, most of them were defunct. Whereas, now the state has 4837 cooperative societies with 16.37 lakh members with the share capital of Rs.291.34 crores and deposits of Rs.196.40 crore. These societies have working capital of Rs.25197 crores.
The Co‑operative societies have advanced Rs.6713 crore short term, medium term and long term loans for agriculture and non-agriculture purposes to the agriculturists, horticulturists and other weaker sections, for their socio economic upliftment. In addition, under the Public Distribution System, consumer goods amounting to Rs.893 crore and chemical fertilizers and seeds and pesticides etc. amounting to Rs.151 crore have been distributed through these Co-operative societies during the current financial year. The societies have also marketed agriculture/ horticulture produce worth Rs.187 crore, which is a big achievement in itself.
With an objective to make the Co-operative societies economically viable and self sustaining our Government has completed the implementation of Integrated Co‑operative Development Project (ICDP) under National Co-operative Development Corporation (NCDC) in all the districts of the State, in the first phase.
Inspired by the first phase of the project, on the recommendation of the State Government, NCDC had approved 2nd phase of ICDP’s in the Bilaspur, Hamirpur and Sirmour districts of the State with a block cost of Rs. 3546.71 lakh for three years.
The NCDC has further on the recommendation of the State Government, sanctioned 2nd phase of such projects for three more districts i.e. Kangra, Shimla and Kullu with a block cost of ₹8170.64 lakh for three years.
Out of the aforesaid sanctioned funds, Rs. 2013.12 lakh stands released to the concerned project implementation agencies i.e. HPSCB Shimla and KCCB Dharamsala for the implementation of these projects. All the new projects have become functional.
The main stress of these 2nd phase of Integrated Cooperative Development Project are infrastructure development (Construction of Godowns, sale shops cum office, work sheds),renovation of Godowns, purchase of furniture fixture, computer with accessories, looms etc. Moreover, sufficient provision has been made for the training of the employees of the Cooperative Societies, Managing Committee members and PIT personnel in these projects.
With the concerted, persuassive and encouraging endeavours of the State Government, more and more people have been associated with the cooperative movement in the State and contributing a lot in economic upliftment of rural people.