Government to set up 300 rural clusters by 2020: Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission
The Modi Government has launched yet another initiative to bridge the gap between the rural and urban areas of the country. This time, the government has taken the initiative of setting up 300 rural clusters by 2020. This mission is, however, not a new one. It is a replacement of the original PURA mission (Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) announced by the erstwhile UPA government. It was announced by the Modi government in the 2014-15 budget that the PURA mission was to be replaced with a new mission. But the formal announcement by the name “Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission” (SPMRM) was made on 16 August 2015 by the Union cabinet. The new mission is named after Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
The objective of the mission is to improve the economic, social and infrastructural development in the rural areas. This can be achieved in three ways:
• Improving the life of people of the rural clusters
• Bridging the rural-urban divide
• Reducing distress migration from rural to urban areas
Failure of the PURA mission
The original mission by the UPA government failed because in that mission only the voluntary organisations were involved and it was only limited to the private sector. There was no government participation.
How is the new mission different from the original one?
The new mission aims at involving the government to improve the quality of life of people in rural areas. Considering the failure of the previous programme, the Modi government felt the need to initiate the programme in a new format. Under the scheme, all states would identify the rural clusters as per the framework for implementation made by the Rural Development Ministry.
Selection of the rural clusters
The clusters will be geographically contiguous Gram Panchayats. Each village with a population of about 25000 to 50000 in plain and coastal areas will be covered. In desert, hilly or tribal areas, villages with a population of 5000 to 15000 will be covered. In the tribal and non-tribal districts, clusters would be selected by a separate approach. As far as possible, clusters of villages would follow administrative convergence units of Gram Panchayats.
The expenditure will be met from various existing schemes at the Panchayat level. The central government would fill in the deficit of up to 30% of the scheme expenditure whenever the need arises. Rs 5142.08 crore has been allocated by the centre for this scheme.
What will the scheme cover?
To ensure an optimum level of development of a cluster, the scheme will focus on 14 mandatory components:
1. Skill development training along with economic activities
2. Digital literacy
3. Provision of fully equipped mobile health unit
4. Inter-village road connectivity
5. Citizen service centres
6. e-gram connectivity
7. Public transport facilities
8. LPG gas connections
9. Agro processing
10. Agro services including storage and warehousing
11. Sanitation facilities
12. Provision of piped water supply
13. Solid and liquid waste management
14. Upgrading education facilities.
The new scheme will be based on a similar model undertaken in Gujarat which focused on producing community assets and improving basic infrastructure like shelter, roads, power and drinking water in rural belts. The Gujarat model displaying the Rurban development model of urbanisation of rural areas was a successful model. Similarly, the new mission Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission would also be a successful mission through which people living in the rural areas can get effective civic infrastructure and associate services. Like the concept of smart cities, the development of rural clusters is a concept of smart villages.
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