In a bid to give states a greater say in rural development, the Centre has decided to allot 50% of the rural development ministry’s funds to state governments, who can spend it on projects they deem fit.
“By the end of the 12th five-year plan in 2017, we will be allocating 50% of rural development funds directly to the states,” rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said at a function organised by Mumbai University on Sunday.
The rural development ministry monitors some of the UPA government’s key flagship schemes, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).
It has an annual budget of nearly Rs99,000 crore, second only to the country’s defence spending.
The minister claimed that state governments were not taking up the responsibility of augmenting the infrastructure in their respective areas.
For instance, the state government should ideally take up the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, a centrally funded project to make all-weather roads for villages with a population of 500 or more.
“The Centre should be taking up real infrastructure projects such as power and ports, while the state should be responsible for constructing rural roads,” he said.
The minister also said that a new scheme called the Mukhya Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana would be launched in the state, which will connect villages with a population of 250 habitants through all-weather roads.