Home arrow Archives arrow Open Forum arrow Open Forum 2006 arrow Bharat Nirman Plan:CHANGING FACE OF RURAL INDIA, T.D. Jagadesan,31 May 2006
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Bharat Nirman Plan:CHANGING FACE OF RURAL INDIA, T.D. Jagadesan,31 May 2006 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 31 May 2006

 Bharat Nirman Plan


By. T.D. Jagadesan

The exodus from rural to urban India, causing population explosion in big and small cities alike proves beyond even an iota of doubt that the development process of the last half of a century of independent India has left villages far behind the cities. They even lack the basic amenities of health services, housing, education, safe drinking water, rural connectivity and communication facilities.  The divide in the growth process is wide enough to lure the youth from rural to urban areas for better living conditions and employment opportunities.

Many initiatives had been taken in the past by successive governments.  Although a change is taking place, the pace of development is slow and the divide is still wide. To bridge it and with an aim to catch up with atleast semi-urban areas, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre recently launched the Bharat Nirman Progremme to change the face of rural India.  Its motto is to change the basic infrastructure in rural areas in the next five years. 

Six core areas of infrastructure development have been identified under the Bharat Nirman Programme for implementation in a time-bound manner.  These are irrigation, rural connectivity, rural housing, drinking water supply, rural electrification and rural telephone connectivity. 

The Programme envisages: bringing an additional one crore hectares of unirrigated agricultural land under assured irrigation; connection of all habitation having a population of one thousand (500) in hilly and tribal areas) with all-weather roads.  The target is to connect the remaining 66,802 habitations with all-weather roads; provision of safe drinking water to all villages and habitations in the country; electrification of the remaining 1,25,000 villages; and construction of 60 lakh houses for the rural poor.

The Programme is implemented by the State Governments through the Panchayati Raj bodies.  But it is not a Programme for the State Governments alone.  It is an agenda for everybody, for trade and industry, for farmers, artisans social workers and in fact every single Indian is either a user or a partner in this gigantic task of nation building.  The Government views Bharat Nirman Programme as an effort to unlock rural India’s growth potential.

The targets set out in each of the six core areas are ambitious. The Union Government has, however, shown its commitment in the very first year of the four-year targeted Programme.  The National Committee on Rural Infrastructure, chaired by the Prime Minister, directly monitors the progress of implementation of all programmes taken up under Bharat Nirman.

Describing the Bharat Nirman Programme as an epitome of the UPA Government’s approach to governance, the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram while presenting the Union Budget for 2006-07 in Parliament said it is a paradigm shift that will enable the Government to use the resources thrown up by the engine of growth for building infrastructure and bringing basic amenities to rural India.

The six areas which are so critical for unleashing the process of growth in rural areas got a special attention in the Budget.  Allocation for these areas has been increased by an incredible 54 per cent from Rs.12,160 crore in the current fiscal to Rs.18,696 crore in 2006-07.

The Government admits that there has been a steady decline in public investment in irrigation over the years.  A large number of projects have been languishing for want of funds. Under the Programme, major and medium irrigation projects having a potential to provide assured irrigation to four million hectares and minor irrigation projects to 2.8 million hectares of agricultural land have been identified.

Besides, there is a plan to enhance utilization of already completed projects to generate irrigation potential of additional two million hectares and to harness ground water resources to generate another one million hectares of irrigation potential.  Already during the first year of the Programme, more than 944 crore rupees have been released as grant under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP).

From Panchayat members to the area MPs are involved in the implementation of this Programme. No new projects are planned to be taken up in Andhra  Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu under this Programme as they have already achieved cent per cent connectivity.  By September 2005, a sum of Rs. 3,749 crore had been released for connecting 5,337 inhabitations with all-weather roads under the rural roads programme.

Rural housing shortage is a serious problem with large population living in jhuggies or kutcha houses with thatched roofs. It is estimated that there is an urgent need of about 15 million houses. Under this Programme, the target is to construct six million houses in four years.

Against the physical target of 56,270 habitations for the provisions of safe drinking water, until January this year, 47,546 habitations have been covered under the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Project (ARWSP).  Since 1972-73, under the centrally sponsored schemes more than 15 lakh habitations have provided 37 lakh pumps and one lakh fifty thousand piped water supply scheme.  The task ahead is gigantic.

Rural electrification is another major challenge before the Government. According to the revised definition of village with no electricity (operative from 2004-2005), one lakh twenty five thousand villages and habitations and two crore thirty lakh householders are without electricity.  But about 81 per cent of the villages are having electricity and some of the states like Goa, Haryana, Punjab, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu have achieved cent per cent rural electrification.  In the current fiscal, the Centre has already released the entire allocation of 1,100 crore rupees for rural electrification and the target of covering 10.336 villages is expected to be completed.

Under the Programme, the target is to provide communication facilities to the remaining 66,822 villages in the country of which more than twenty four thousand are in the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Another deficient State is Assam where nearly nine thousand villages are still without a telephone connection.

A three-year programme was chalked out to provide a telephone connection to all the villages in the country.  The target date is September 2007.  Till the end of about seventeen thousand two hundred villages were provided with a telephone connection this year.  More than 13 thousand villages got village Public Telephone till 30 September 2005.

Along with Bharat Nirman, the Government has launched various other initiatives for rural and agricultural development.  Eight flagship programmes – Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, Mid-day Meal Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission.  Total sanitation Campaign, National Rural Health Mission, Integrated Child Development Services, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban renewal Mission get the bulk of resources.

A provision of 14,300 crore rupees has been made in the 2006-2007 budget for the ambitious National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme as against 11,300 crore rupees in the current fiscal. The Scheme has already been initiated in 200 districts spread over the length and breadth of the country.  Since there is a legal guarantee to provide employment for a minimum 100 days in a year, there is an assurance in the budget that more funds will be provided, if needed.

The Programme and other flagship programes are expected to change the face of rural India  More than the financial provisions these lay stress on physical targets and if implemented sincerely, every household, even in the remotest corner or the hilly terrain will have a roof over head, a square meal, market access through better connectivity and communication facilities. ---INFA to a large extent in the coming years.

  (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)



< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT