PM Narendra Modi wooed rural India on Sunday, inaugurating a rural-urban or Rurban mission at Dongargarh in Chhattisgarh and exhorting Odisha farmers to sign up for his government’s crop insurance scheme.
The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Scheme, aimed at improving basic infrastructure, was launched from the Maoist-hit district of Rajnandgaon. “When we talk of smart cities, why can’t we talk of smart villages? The villages in our country can get the facilities of urban areas without diluting their imbibed rural characteristic,” Modi said. “Our vision is to create growth centres in Rurban clusters, and ensure the development of rural segments. This will make them gradually assume the shape of urban areas where modern infrastructure and educational facilities are available.”
The project aims to create village clusters with a population of 25,000 to 60,000, and minimise rural migration to cities through skill development programmes and local economic activities. Around 300 clusters will be created across the nation, initially in the four districts of Rajnandgaon, Dhamtari, Kawardha and Bastar.
In Odisha, Modi said India’s second green revolution will begin from the eastern states and the central government aims to double farmers’ income by 2022.
“I want the eastern part of India to be as developed as the western part. This can be done through integrated farming, including agriculture, fisheries, dairy, poultry and beekeeping that the central government is promoting,” he said at a rally in Bargarh district. More than 150 farmers committed suicide in drought-hit Odisha last year – almost half of them in Bargarh – because of debt and crop failure.
He appealed to farmers to opt for the crop insurance scheme, in which farmers have to pay a uniform premium of 2% of the sum insured for kharif crop and 1.5% for rabi. Modi’s meeting in Bargarh is politically significant as it follows recent events attended by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and CM Naveen Patnaik after farmer suicides.