The Ambedkar tag on backward villages is about to go. So is former chief minister Mayawati’s pet yardstick — volume of Dalit population — to measure backwardness.
Underdevelopment of a village will now be the sole criteria for allotting rural development funds, the SP government has declared. And the scheme it comes under would be called Samagra Gramin Vikas Yojana and not Dr Ambedkar Rural Development Scheme.
“Instead of a scheduled caste population, the backwardness and infrastructure of a village will be decisive for its inclusion in the Samagra Gramin Vikas Yojana, which will run on the lines of the Dr Ambedkar Rural Development Scheme,” said Alok Ranjan, agriculture production commissioner (APC). The Ambedkar rural development department — there has been no proposal to change the department’s name yet — has already sent a proposal to the APC regarding the changes.
The facilities to be provided under the scheme include drinking water, link roads, electricity, drains, housing, and agricultural land. There would be little change in the list, officials said.
“The Ambedkar rural development scheme was launched in 1991 and came into focus whenever the Bahujan Samaj Party came to power,” said an official in the rural development department. It was often condemned on the ground that it only sought to develop villages with a predominant population of scheduled castes.
“It left other equally backward villages outside the ambit of benefits,” he said. “Moreover, even within the Ambedkar villages, the focus of development was more on localities with a high SC population.”