The government is all set to roll out ‘Rurban’, a programme to fill the rural-urban divide, announced in the budget last year. With an aim of spending Rs 6,000 crore over five years, the programme will focus on creating community assets and improving basic infrastructure such as roads, shelter, power and drinking water in rural India.
“We are ready with its blueprint and will take government’s approval soon,” rural development secretary, LC Goyal, told HT.
Lifted straight out of Gujarat, headed by Narendra Modi for three terms before he became the Prime Minister, the concept — launched in the state in 2012 — will see formation of a dedicated institutional set-up in the form of Rurban Cell under panchayat/ rural development department.
At the micro level, the programme will ensure building of internal roads, sewerage and drainage infrastructure. For larger infrastructure, like quality schools and colleges, health centres, etc, the government will adopt a cluster development strategy.
Announcing the programme in a joint session of Parliament in July last year, President Pranab Mukherjee said it would “provide urban amenities to rural areas while preserving the ethos of the villages”.
“My government is committed to improving the quality of life in our villages, through empowered Panchayati Raj institutions,” the President said.
The Rurban scheme was launched after junking PURA, UPA government’s pet project with similar aims, which failed to take off due to design flaws.
The scheme, envisioned by former president Abdul Kalam, aimed at providing street lights, drainage, roads, telecom lines in villages, was introduced in 2003 but found no takers as it lacked specific guidelines for operationalisation. In 2012, the project was revived but failed again.