Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the ambitious Bharat Nirman initiative-aimed at strengthening the country's rural infrastructure-was able to meet most of its targets in 2006.
Manmohan Singh, who reviewed the Bharat Nirman initiative in New Delhi, said four components of telephony, water supply, housing and coverage of new roads exceeded their targets.
The four-year programme, pegged at Rs.1.74 trillion, is aimed at achieving identified goals in six selected areas-irrigation, water supply, housing, roads, telephony and electrification.
"The targets under the components of rural electrification were also substantially achieved though there was a shortfall in the component of irrigation," an official statement said.
The prime minister said in four of these areas, the government intended to see universal coverage where every village with a population of over 1,000 would have all-weather roads, water supply, telephone connections and electricity.
The government also plans to build six million houses to address rural homelessness and add 10 million hectares to irrigation capacity, he said.
Taking stock of the progress made so far, Manmohan Singh found that 18,708 km of rural roads were constructed against a target of 15,492 km while 30,251 villages out of 66,822 stood covered under rural telephony so far.
In the area of rural housing against a target of 1.5 million houses for 2005-06, 1.54 million houses were constructed.
Under rural electrification against a target of 10,000 villages to be electrified, 9,819 villages were connected in 2005-06. However, the next two years were critical for the programme as the target has been hiked to 40,000 villages per year.
A new system of franchisees for distribution has also been set up under the programme with the franchisee being self-help groups and entrepreneurs. In irrigation, the basic responsibility is with the state governments.
For the rural roads programme, a separate window for Bharat Nirman-under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund-has been created to source Rs.165 billion which is expected to be approved by the cabinet shortly.
Seven states with over 90 percent of the backlog in the area of rural roads include Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkand and Orissa.
There are six states with over 90 percent of the backlog in the area of rural electrification-Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The prime minister also directed the Planning Commission to organise a separate meeting with the chief ministers of these states during the ensuing National Development Council meet to request them to act on these programmes with urgency so that all targets are achieved on schedule.
Bharat Nirman, along with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, National Rural Health Mission and Sarvashiksha Abhiyan, is aimed at giving a "new deal to rural India".