*V. Mohan Rao
Being the nodal Ministry for most of the development
and welfare activities in the rural areas, the Ministry of Rural
Development plays a pivotal role in the overall development strategy
of the country. The vision and mission of the Ministry is
sustainable and inclusive growth of rural India through a
multipronged strategy for eradication of poverty by increasing
livelihood opportunities, providing social safety net and developing
infrastructure for growth. This is expected to improve quality of
life in rural India and to correct the developmental imbalances,
aiming in the process, to reach out to most disadvantaged sections
of the society.
implies both the economic betterment of people as well as greater
social transformation. Increased participation of people in the
rural development programmes, decentralization of planning, better
enforcement of land reforms and greater access to credit are
envisaged for providing the rural people with better prospects.
thrust for development was laid on agriculture, industry,
communication, education, health and allied sectors. Later on,
realizing that accelerated development can be provided only if
governmental efforts are adequately supplemented by direct and
indirect involvement of people at the grass root level, the thrust
And the thrust is more visible in this year’s budget,
announced that the total allocation for rural, agricultural and
allied sectors for 2017-18 is a record Rs 1,87,223 crore, which is
24% higher from what was allocated last year. Experts feel that this
was also necessitated due to
rising rural distress after back-to-back droughts.
The Narendra Modi-led Government is laying considerable emphasis on
and touching new milestones in its programmes and policies for the
all round development of the people and the rural development is one
of the key focus areas for transformation of the society.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is one of such programmes. It
aims at enhancing livelihood security of households in rural areas
of the country by providing not less than one hundred days of
guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household
whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
The financial year 2016-17 witnessed an
unprecedented governance transformation in MGNREGS with a sustained
thrust on water conservation. With over 82% active workers (9.1
crore) with Aadhaar seeding in NREGASoft, 4.6 crore workers on
AadhaarBased Payment Bridge, electronic payment of 96% wages through
Bank/Post Office accounts,more than 89 lakh assets geo tagged so
far, 93 lakh jobcards deleted so far through proper verification,
large scale drought proofing water conservation works in rainfall
deficient regions, MGNREGS established itself as a well governed
programme creating durable assets for livelihood security in poor
regions, while providing employment on demand.
For the first time, deprivation levels of States were
taken into account while approving Labour Budget. The April to July
period in the financial year2016-17 witnessed an unprecedented
demand for work on account of the continued drought. Thereafter, on
account of a good monsoon in over 75% districts, the demand remained
concentrated in drought affected regions like Karnataka. December
onwards, as happens every year, demand for work again rose. MGNREGS
achieved 230 crore person days which is higher than the revised
labour budget. The total provisional expenditure of Rs. 58,056Crore
(Central plus State) is the highest ever in MGNREGS in any year. 56%
women in the wage employment generated is also the highest ever.
Moving on from job generation to rural connectivity,
record 47,350 kms. of rural road was constructed during 2016-17
under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). This is the highest
construction of PMGSY roads in a single year, in the last 7 years.
During the period 2011-14, the average rate of construction of PMGSY
roads was 73 kms. per day, which increased to 100 km per day during
2014-15 and 2015-16. For the year 2016-17, a record of 130 kms. per
day has been achieved, which is the highest average annual
construction rate, in the last 7 years.
With a view to reduce the “carbon footprint” of rural
roads, reduce environmental pollution, increase the working season
and bring cost effectiveness, PMGSY is aggressively encouraging use
of “Green Technologies” and non-conventional materials like waste
plastic, cold mix, geo-textiles, fly-ash, iron and copper slag etc.
in rural roads. 4,113.13 kms of PMGSY roads were constructed using
“Green” technologies, in 2016-17. This is substantially higher than
2,634.02 kms achieved during 2014-2016 and
806.93kms achieved during 2000-2014.
Similarly to address the shelter needs of the rural poor,
Prime Minister launched the Pradhan Mantri Awaas
Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) on November 20, 2016. The new Rural Housing
programme is designed to meet the needs and aspirations of
households. With a higher unit cost, it allows for construction
using local materials and local house designs. Homes will have
cooking area, toilet, LPG connection, electricity connection and
water supply through convergence, and beneficiaries can plan their
homes as per their need. Training programme for Rural Masons has
been launched to meet a critical skill requirement for quality
construction. The selection of beneficiaries has been through a
rigorous process using Socio Economic Census (SECC) Data for those
who are homeless or in 0, 1, 2 kutcha rooms with kutcha roof. The
SECC Data has been validated by Gram Sabha and also subjected to
space technology validation to ensure that there are no inclusion
errors. 2014 CAG’s Performance Audit Report highlighted problem of
ineligible beneficiaries covered under Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY).
It has been completely taken care of through the 3 filter selection
process under PMAY-G. A total of 44 lakh houses were approved for
2016-17 and the government hopes to complete all of them by December
2017. A completion period of 6 to 12 months is being followed in
The other major thrust was to complete most of the 36
lakh incomplete Indira Awaas Yojana houses which had been pending
from anywhere between 1 to 4 years. As per the reports received
from the States, a total of 32.14 lakh houses have been completed in
States like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra,
Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Assam have taken the lead in the
implementation of the PMAY-G. States like Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar
Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Maharashtra
have done well in completing a very large number of incomplete
Indira Awaas Yojana houses.
The Department of Rural Development hopes to complete
51 lakh houses in 2017-18. An additional 33 lakh houses will be
sanctioned for 2017-18 shortly. A similar number is proposed to be
completed in 2018-19 making the completion during 2016-19 period of
1.35 crore houses. This will pave the way for Housing for All by
Another important scheme called Saansad Adarsh
Gram Yojana (SAGY) is aimed at translating the comprehensive and
organic vision of Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi on rural
development into a reality, keeping in view the present context. The
objective of this programme is to create Model Villages through
innovation in convergence and thereby motivate and inspire
neighbouring Gram Panchayats. Members of Parliament are to develop
three Adarsh Gram Panchayats by March 2019 - one Adarsh Gram by 2016
and two more Adarsh Grams by 2019. There-after, Five Adarsh Grams
(one per year) are to be developed by 2024.
A Gram Panchayat will be the basic unit which will
have a population of 3000 to 5000 in plain areas and 1000 to 3000 in
hilly, tribal and difficult areas. The MP would be free to identify
a suitable Gram Panchayat for being developed as Adarsh Gram, other
than his/her own village or that of his/her spouse. The all round
development of the Gram Panchayats is adopted under the Yojana.
Members of Parliament have so far adopted 897 Gram
Panchayats. In the states, 21,926 projects have already been
completed or in progress out of 40,962 projects that were planned
to be implemented. Significant progress has been achieved towards
holistic development in many of the SAGY Gram Panchayats. The
development of Gram Panchayats, identified under SAGY, is intended
to take place through the convergence and implementation of existing
Government Schemes and Programmes without allocating additional
development of Gram Panchayats identified under SAGY is intended to
take place through the convergence and implementation of existing
Government Schemes and Programs without allocating additional funds.
*Author is a senior freelance journalist and
regularly writes for newspapers and magazines. Earlier worked with
PTI for two decades.
Views expressed in the article are author’s own.