Govt to develop 300 smart villages
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the 'Rurban Mission' from Dongargad in Rajnandgaon district in Chhattisgarh to develop 300 villages as growth centres. Out of these 300 smart villages, 100 rural centres will be developed by the end of 2016. The PM highlighted that he has brought the government to the people unlike earlier programmes that were launched from Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi.
India: A predominantly rural country
India is a predominantly rural country with 833 million people or 68% of India's population living in rural areas. The rural areas generally lack access to basic amenities such as healthcare facilities, sanitation, drinking water, LPG gas connection, etc. This not only leads to poor living standards in rural areas but also migration to cities in search of better opportunities.
PURA could not succeed
As a strategy for holistic rural development, late President APJ Abdul Kalam mooted the idea of PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas). PURA, launched by the UPA government failed, as it was restricted to the private sector with negligible government participation. It could not take off at 4 of the 13 planned places and implementation at 9 places was also not good.
What is the Rurban mission?
Rurban, an acronym of Rural-Urban, is an improvement over the PURA scheme. The Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission aims to develop a cluster of smart villages as growth centres to trigger the development of the region. Modelled on an initiative by PM Modi in Gujarat, SPMRM will help reduce rural-urban migration, arrest growth of slums in cities, improve living standard in rural areas, etc.
Smart villages will have 14 components
Each village cluster will have 14 components for development like skill development, digital literacy, agro-processing, sanitation, public transport, LPG gas connection, piped drinking water, solid and liquid waste management, street lights, mobile health units, and so on.
Union cabinet clears Rurban mission
The Union Cabinet cleared the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission to bridge the rural-urban divide in access to basic amenities. The mission, over the next 3 years, plans to develop 300 smart rural centres with each centre catering to 4 adjoining villages. Touted as a mantra for urbanization, the Rs.15,000 crores scheme will seek funding from existing schemes and about 30% from the Centre.
Population criteria for clusters
Each smart rural cluster will require around Rs.50-52 crores to develop gram panchayats with a population of 25,000-50,000 in plains or coastal areas and 5,000-15,000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas.