THE CENTRAL Government has declared 13 more districts as backward districts entitling each to Rs 20 cr Central grants from the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) every year for the next five years to remove critical development gaps.
Now the total number of backward districts in the State has gone up to 34, with 21 districts already ‘enjoying’ the backward status.
Also, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is being implemented only in the districts declared as backward by the Centre.
The Central Government has put more districts on the backward region list under an all-India exercise. Under this it has declared a total of 80 new districts, spreading over various States, as backward, increasing the tally of backward districts to 250.
Till now, there existed 170 backward districts across the Country.
The new districts declared backward in UP are: Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Balrampur, Basti, Badaun, Etah Farukhabad, Gonda, Lakhmipur Khiri, Maharajganj, Sant Kabir Nagar, Siddhart Nagar and Sravasti.
They will now join the league of 21 already existing backward districts — Azamgarh, Banda, Barabanki, Chandauli, Chtrakoot, Fatehpur, Gorakhpur, Hamirpur, Hardoi, Jalaun, Jaunpur, Kaushambi, Kushi Nagar, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Mirzapur, Pratapgarh, Rae Bareli Sitapur, Sonbhadra, and Unnao.
The Central Government had started identifying backward districts in UP in 2003-05. In the first phase it declared only five districts as backward.
The grants to be given to the 34 backward districts will be used to remove regional disparities and inequalities among various income groups by providing infrastructure and promoting agrarian reforms.
Confirming that 13 more districts had been categorised as backward, Secretary, Planning Commission, Chandrapal told Hindustan Times from Delhi on phone that development projects like hospitals, ITIs and schools would be set up in the backward districts. “But the focus would be on benefiting the SC-ST population as much as possible,” he said.
The Central Government had in February this year announced the creation of BRGF with an allocation of Rs 5,000 cr. With the establishment of this fund, the Centre’s Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) being implemented in the backward districts will be wound up. Money from the BRGF will go to the State’s Consolidated Fund from where it will be directed to the Panchayat level.
Additional rural development commissioner Chandrapal Arun said that it was Centre’s prerogative to declare a State as backward.
He said that there were certain indicators that were taken into count while deciding to put a State on the backward region list. Among the main indicators were high BPL population and the SC-ST population, low agriculture productivity, and lack of infrastructure, he added.