By Prashant Sood
New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) The Narendra Modi government is moving fast on its ambitious ‘Rurban’ mission – to provide urban amenities in rural areas – with an expert committee appointed to frame guidelines expected to give its report by the middle of October.
The ambitous Rurban mission is expected to help reduce migration from rural to urban areas with modern infrastructure being created in villages, as the present high rate of migration was creating heavy pressure on the civic infrastructure in India’s cities.
Official sources said that the committee, headed by S.M. Vijayanand, additional secretary in the rural development ministry, will frame guidelines for ‘Rurban’ by incorporating the best practices of PURA – the government’s earlier scheme to provide urban facilities in rural areas.
“We are working very fast… The report of the committee is expected to be submitted by the middle of October,” a senior official of the rural development ministry told IANS, not wishing to be named. The committee would study the experience of Rurban in Gujarat and also look at places where PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) had been “very successful.”
The sources said that committee will seek feedback on work done under PURA at places such as Perriyar in Tamil Nadu, Loni in Maharashtra and the work on village development model by the Deendayal Research Institute at Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh.
They said that the committee will submit its report to the rural development ministry which will later move the cabinet. “The mission is expected to be operationalised by December,” the official said.
Rurban, an idea associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had found a place in the manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to parliament in June had announced the government’s intention to end rural-urban divide, guided by the idea of “Rurban – providing urban amenities to rural areas while preserving the ethos of the villages.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech, had named the programme as Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission.
The mission seeks to lay thrust on integrated project-based infrastructure in the rural areas and provide for income generation avenues and skill development. The official said that the thrust will be on “integrated planning, electronic connectivity, skill development and livelihood (opportunities) apart from sanitation”.
He said the Rurban concept of the Gujarat government seeks to combine traditional knowledge and practices with modern technology.
In the first phase of Rurban, Rs.100 crore will be spent in three identified projects in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh and Sangli and Buldhana districts of Maharashtra.
PURA was the brainchild of former president A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and was launched in a pilot phase by the rural development ministry from 2004-05 to 2006-07. However, the scheme never took off to its full potential apparently because of lack of convergence. The United Progressive Alliance government had launched a reworked PURA in February 2012 by combining infrastructure development in rural areas with economic regeneration activities in Private Public Partnership (PPP) mode.
According to a study, in 1951, the urban population in India was 62 million, or 17 percent of the total population. In 2011, the urban population was 377 million, or 31 percent of the total population. By 2025, 42.5 percent of the population is estimated to be living in cities.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)