Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on Saturday spoke extensively on one of his favourite topics- providing urban amenities in rural areas (PURA).
"PURA means that villages must be connected within themselves and with main towns and metros through good roads and, wherever needed, by railway lines," he said at the inaugural session of the Uttar Pradesh Development Conclave organised jointly by Hindustan Times and Hindustan in the state capital.
"They must have other infrastructure like schools, colleges, hospitals and amenities for the local population and the visitors. This is physical connectivity. In the emerging knowledge era, the native knowledge has to be preserved and enhanced with the latest tools of technology, training and research. The villages have to have access to good education from the best teachers wherever they are, must have the benefit of good medical treatment, and must have latest information," he said.
The number of PURAs for the whole country is estimated to be 7,000 covering 600,000 villages where 700 million people live, he said.
"There are a number of operational PURA in our country initiated by many educational, institutions. The government of India is already moving ahead with the implementation of PURA on the national scale across several districts of India. Uttar Pradesh, too, will need about 1,100 such PURA complexes for over 1 lakh villages," he added.
He also discussed what he called, a "potential PURA" which can be implemented in Sitapur district of UP. "The model would be the evolution of Plain PURA in Sitapur. This district has 19 blocks and six tehsils with a population of over 36 lakh.
"My team and I have evolved one specific PURA for the block Rampur-Mathura of Sitapur. This PURA needs to focus extensively on creation of economic assets and income sources in the form of agro products with an emphasis of tourism and educational and health hub. To facilitate such an economic reform, the Sitapur PURA would have to begin with the creation of electronic connectivity in the region and facilitate the knowledge transfer," he suggested.