According to the 2011 census of India, 68.84% of Indians (around 833.1 million people) live in 640,867 different villages. The size of these villages varies considerably. 236,004 Indian villages have a population of fewer than 500, while 3,976 villages have a population of 10,000 plus. The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) study on Housing Conditions and Amenities in India, 2008-09, reveals that just 18% households in rural India have access to basic amenities such as drinking water and electricity. Further, the social groups – STs (75%), SCs (76%) and OBCs (69%) – in rural areas don’t have sanitation facility in their households. Bathroom facility was not available to nearly 64% of the rural households. In urban areas, only 22% of the households were deprived of bathrooms. Further, nearly 65% rural households had no latrine facility as against 11% for their urban counterparts. The government survey highlights that only 30% of rural population had access to safe drinking water and 55% depend on tube well or hand pumps to meet their drinking water requirements. In fact, 15% of rural people were still looking for dependable source of water. The incidence of poverty is another aggregate which reflects the prevailing conditions of poor livelihood scenario and lack of basic amenities in the rural areas. The SCs/STs, who constitute the bottom layer of the pyramid, remain backward in economic and social development and vulnerable to various forms of discrimination including in areas such as education, healthcare and social security measures.

Villages remained out of focus in the past

Indian villages lagged behind in basic amenities and economic development because the urban areas, industrial and commercial activities got priority. Agriculture, the main occupation in rural areas, recorded fluctuating growth and income of farmers and agricultural labours also fluctuated with intense or weak monsoon.  After India gained its independence, a plethora of welfare schemes and activities were initiated for rural development in successive five year plans. But these proved inadequate and rural areas lagged behind urban areas. Consequently, rural people migrated to urban areas in search of livelihood opportunities, modern amenities and services for decent living.

There are wide gaps in the availability of physical and social infrastructure between rural and urban areas. To address these issues, the President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam highlighted a vision of transformation of rural India by launching a large-scale mission for Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA). The vision of PURA states that transformation of India to a ‘developed’ country  can only be realised if we launch a mega mission for empowering the rural people. This can be possible by creation of Physical, electronic and knowledge connectivities leading to economic connectivity in villages. Such a model of establishing a circular connectivity among the rural village complexes will accelerate rural development process by empowerment.

PURA is an important Initiative for providing basic amenities and connectivity to Rural areas

Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA) is a strategy for rural development in India. This concept was given by former president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and discussed in his book Target 3 Billion which he co-authored with Srijan Pal Singh. The genesis of PURA concept can be traced to the work done by Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute in the early 1990s on Taluka energy self-sufficiency. It was shown in the study that energy self-sufficient talukas can be a new development model for rural India in terms of creation of jobs and better amenities to its population. The mission envisages holistic and accelerated development of compact areas around a potential growth centre in a Gram Panchayat (or a group of Gram Panchayats) through Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework for providing livelihood opportunities and urban amenities to improve the quality of life in rural areas

Creating economic opportunities through better connectivity

PURA proposes that urban infrastructure and services be provided in rural hubs to create economic opportunities outside of cities. Physical connectivity by providing roads, electronic connectivity by providing communication network, and knowledge connectivity by establishing professional and Technical institutions will have to be done in an integrated way so that economic connectivity will emanate. The Indian central government has been running pilot PURA programs in several states since 2004.

On the eve of India’s 54th Republic Day, in 2003, Dr. Kalam addressed the nation explaining them his vision for a new India. He visualised providing four elements of connectivity: physical connectivity, electronic connectivity, knowledge connectivity leading to economic connectivity of rural areas and where there would be a lesser urban-rural divide. PURA was envisaged as a self-sustainable and viable model of service delivery to be managed through an implementation framework between the different stakeholders involved, namely local people, public authorities and the private sector. The Government support would be in the form of finding the right type of management structure to develop and maintain rural infrastructure, empowering the management structure and providing initial economic support. Subsequently, the Prime Minister of India also announced implementation of a PURA scheme in his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2003.

Re-launch of PURA provide drinking water and connectivity

To make the basic amenities like good roads and drinking water accessible to people even in remote villages, The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India has re-launched the scheme Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) as a Central Government scheme during the remaining period of the eleventh five-year plan.

MoRD, with support from Department of Economic Affairs and the Asian Development Bank (which provided the technical assistance), intends to implement the PURA scheme under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between Local executive bodies like the Gram Panchayat(s) and private sector partners. The vision of the scheme in particular is providing dual benefits like rural infrastructure development coupled with economic re-generation activities; it is the first attempt of the government in this direction of delivering basic amenities and infrastructure through this model to people in remote rural areas. All the efforts are directed to obtain dual benefits, provide a different framework for the efficient implementation of rural infrastructure development schemes and benefit from the private sector efficiencies in the management of assets and delivery of services.

Strategies and planning

The Mission & Vision of PURA is to bring together the experience & expertise of both public & private players to achieve the objectives which are proposed to be achieved under the framework of PPP between Gram Panchayats and private sector partner. Core funding shall be sourced from the Central Sector scheme of PURA and complemented by additional support through convergence of different Central Government schemes. The private sector shall also bring on board its share of investment besides operational expertise. Seven pilot projects were implemented during the 10th Five Year Plan in Basmath (Maharashtra), Bharthana (Uttar Pradesh), Gohpur (Assam), Kujanga (Orissa), Motipur (Bihar), Rayadurg (Andhra Pradesh) and Shahpura (Rajasthan). An evaluation study of these pilot projects was carried out by National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) which identified the necessity of community and private sector participation as essential factors and the need for factoring infrastructure development with lead economic activities and livelihoods creation, requirement of project site selection on the basis of growth potential and need for convergence with other schemes of the government.

Based on the findings of the evaluation study by NIRD, Comments, Feedback received from different stakeholders like various Ministries/Departments, feedback received during consultations with private sector representatives and officials of State Governments, and the recommendations of the consulting team of Asian Development Bank), the scheme of PURA was restructured for implementation on pilot basis during 11th Five Year Plan as a Central Sector scheme. It was envisaged to be implemented gradually in the whole of India.It was suggested to carry out proper research a about financial and operational abilities to select private Partner selected, identify a Gram Panchayat, a cluster of geographically contiguous Gram Panchayats for a population of about 25,000– 40,000 and the project area and sub-projects to cover each of the Panchayats within the cluster along with economic activities suitable to the cluster.

Business model

The essence of the PURA scheme is to have the best of both the worlds Private & Public, The leveraging of public funds with private capital and management expertise for creation and maintenance of rural infrastructure. Funding for the various projects taken up under the PURA scheme depending on the priority, relevance to the objectives of the government may come from four sources: MoRD schemes, non-MoRD schemes, private financing and Capital Grant under PURA.As

Current status of PURA

PURA did not yield any remarkable result till 2012. Since then it was supposed to be effectively implemented. The Rural ministry planned to reform PURA – to facilitate creation of urban infrastructure in around 2,000 new towns identified by the 2011 decadal Census. But still things did not progress much with regard to allocation of resources and implementation of programmes. A major impetus was given to the PURA scheme in 2015. In an ambitious bid to transform rural areas to economically, socially and physically sustainable spaces, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved on September 16, 2015 the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) with an outlay of Rs. 5142.08 crores. The Mission aims at development of rural growth clusters which have latent potential for growth, in all States and UTs, which would trigger overall development in the region. These clusters would be developed by provisioning of economic activities, developing skills & local entrepreneurship and providing infrastructure amenities. The Rurban Mission will thus develop a cluster of Smart Villages.

 For the selection of clusters, the Ministry of Rural Development is adopting a scientific process of cluster selection which involves an objective analysis at the District, Sub District and Village level, of the demography, economy, tourism and pilgrimage significance and transportation corridor impact. While the Ministry, following this analysis, would provide a suggestive list of sub districts to the State, the State Governments would then select the clusters following a set of indicated principles included in the Framework for Implementation.

 The mission aims to create 300 such Rurban growth clusters over the next 3 years, across the country. The funding for Rurban Clusters will be through various schemes of the Government converged into the cluster. The SPMRM will provide an additional funding support of upto 30 percent of the project cost per cluster as Critical Gap Funding (CGF) as Central Share to enable development of such Rurban clusters.

Main highlights of the RURBAN Mission

  1. To ensure an optimum level of development, fourteen  components have been suggested as desirable for the cluster, which would include;  Skill development training linked to economic activities, Agro Processing/Agri Services/Storage and Warehousing, Digital Literacy, Sanitation, Provision of piped water supply, Solid and liquid waste management, Village streets and drains, Street lights, Fully equipped mobile health unit, Upgrading school /higher education facilities, Inter-village road connectivity, Citizen Service Centres- for electronic delivery of citizen centric services/e-gram connectivity, Public transport., LPG gas connections.
  2. The States would prepare Integrated Cluster Action Plans for Rurban Clusters, which would be comprehensive plan documents detailing out the strategy for the cluster, desired outcomes  for the cluster under the mission, along with the resources to be converged under various Central Sector, Centrally Sponsored and State Sector schemes, and the Critical Gap Funding (CGF) required for the cluster.
  3. In addition to the Critical Gap Funding, proactive steps have been taken to ensure the success of the mission with adequate budget provisions for supporting the State Government towards project development, capacity building and other institutional arrangements at the state level.
  4. The Mission envisages institutional arrangements both at the State and Center to ensure smooth implementation of the Mission. The Mission also has an Innovation budget towards facilitating research, development and capacity building.
  5. The scheme through development of rurban growth clusters aimed at catalyzing overall regional growth,  would thus simultaneously benefit the rural as well as urban areas of the country, by achieving twin objectives of strengthening rural areas and de burdening the urban areas hence leading to balanced regional development and growth of the country.
  6. These clusters would be well delineated areas with planned layouts prepared following the planning norms (as laid down in the State Town and Country Planning Acts/similar Central or State statutes as may be applicable), which would be duly notified by the State/UTs. These plans would be finally integrated with the District Plans/Master Plans as the case may be.
  7. The State Governments would identify the clusters in accordance with the Framework for Implementation prepared by the Ministry of Rural Development. The clusters will be geographically contiguous Gram Panchayats with a population of about 25000 to 50000 in plain and coastal areas and a population of 5000 to 15000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas. There would be a separate approach for selection of clusters in Tribal and Non-Tribal Districts. As far as practicable, clusters of village would follow administrative convergence units of Gram Panchayats.

Allocation for Rural Development programmes in Budget 2017-18.

  1. Allocation for rural sector for Fiscal Year 2018 is Rs 1,87,200 cr, which is a record, and represents an increase of 24%.
  2. Allocation under MNREGA increased from Rs 38,500 crore to Rs 48,000 crore.
  3. Participation of women in MNREGA has increased to 55%.
  4. Mahila Shakti Kendra at village level for rural women empowerment will be initiated in this financial year.
  5. 100% village electrification will be achieved by May 1,2018.
  6. For Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana rural electrification programme, the allocation has been raised by 43% to Rs4,814 crore for 2017-18 from a year ago.
  7. 1,00,00,000 houses by 2019 for houseless and those living in kaccha houses.
  8. Cabinet approves extension of tenure of loans under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana from 15 to 20 years.
  9. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana+ allocation raised from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 23,000 crore.
  10. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna roads work accelrated to 133 kn roads per day in 2016-17 against 73 km per day during 2011-14.
  11. Open defecation free+ villages are now being given priority for pipe to water supply.
  12. The budget provided an additional Rs20,000 crore for the long-term irrigation fund under National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard). Jaitley also announced the creation of a micro-irrigation fund with a corpus of Rs5,000 crore under Nabard.
  13. For imparting new skills to the people in the rural areas, mason training will be provided to 5 lakh persons by 2022, with an immediate target of training at least 20,000 persons by 2017-18.

Agriculture and Farmer’s welfare in the budget 2017-18

  1. Allocation for Agriculture and Farmers’ welfare is Rs 35,984 crore.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana’ to be implemented in mission mode. 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under irrigation.
  3. Implementation of 89 irrigation projects under AIBP, which are languishing for a long time, will be fast tracked.
  4. A dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund will be created in NABARD with an initial corpus of about Rs 20,000 crore.
  5. Programme for sustainable management of ground water resources with an estimated cost of Rs 6,000 crore will be implemented through multilateral funding.
  6. 5 lakh farm ponds and dug wells in rain fed areas and 10 lakh compost pits for production of organic manure will be taken up under MGNREGA.
  7. Soil Health Card scheme will cover all 14 crore farm holdings by March 2017.
    2,000 model retail outlets of Fertilizer companies will be provided with soil and seed testing facilities during the next three years.
  8. Promote organic farming through ‘Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ and ‘Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region’.
  9. Unified Agricultural Marketing ePlatform to provide a common e- market platform for wholesale markets ? Allocation under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana increased to Rs. 19,000 crore. Will connect remaining 65,000 eligible habitations by 2019.
  10. To reduce the burden of loan repayment on farmers, a provision of Rs 15,000 crore has been made in the BE 2016-17 towards interest subvention.
  11. Allocation under Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana Rs 5,500 crore.
  12. Rs 850 crore for four dairying projects – ‘Pashudhan Sanjivani’, ‘Nakul Swasthya Patra’, ‘E-Pashudhan Haat’ and National Genomic Centre for indigenous breeds.

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