Lok Sabha elections 2019: Model village plan remains on paper, Delhi MPs say multiple issues
The central government’s initiative to develop a rural village as an ‘adarsh gram’ (model village) in each parliamentary constituency of the country has largely remained a concept on paper in the national capital. While the seven BJP MPs have adopted a total of 11 villages in the region, work in majority of these villages, as envisaged in the ambitious scheme, has not taken place so far.
According to the Delhi MPs, the highly urbanised nature of the villages, the absence of gram panchayat system in the city and the lack of cooperation from the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government are the main reasons why Delhi can’t boast of having a model village. There are just 112 rural villages in Delhi concentrated mostly in parliamentary constituencies like north-west, north-east, South and West Delhi. A large number of these villages have become urbanised although their status continues to be rural in government records.
For example, Union environment minister and Chandni Chowk MP, Harsh Vardhan, decided to adopt two villages—Ghoga and Singola—in north-west parliamentary constituency as there aren’t any rural villages in his constituency. “I had adopted Dhirpur village in my constituency, but it wasn’t accepted by the rural ministry as it is an urbanised village. I adopted villages in another constituency as the idea is to do our best to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision,” Harsh Vardhan said.
New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, too, faced a similar problem while choosing which village to adopt. “According to the centre’s notification, urbanised villages couldn’t be adopted. I adopted Qutub Garh in north-west Delhi. But as I had promised people in Pilanji, I have adopted the village and got several important work done there too,” Lekhi said.
Meanwhile, north-east Delhi MP, Manoj Tiwari, says he has adopted Kadipur and Sabhapur villages in his constituency but as per the ministry, he has adopted only Sabhapur.
Citing election model code of conduct, a senior rural development ministry official refused to comment on the matter.
Under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), a village development plan was to be prepared after a situation analysis of each of the adopted villages. According to information available on the rural development ministry’s website (updated till March 31, 2019), no development plan has been prepared for any of the 11 adopted villages.
While MPs say the ‘model village’ is a great concept, implementing it in Delhi, they say, is a huge challenge.
East Delhi MP Maheish Girri, who had adopted Chilla village, says there is nothing rural about the village. “There are three-four storeyed buildings in the village. It is a completely urban village and there is very little we could do. I have still tried to provide for infrastructure as demanded by people. I sanctioned funds for the construction of chaupal as demanded by people,” said Girri.
In Delhi, the district magistrates were the nodal officers in charge of monitoring the work. MPs complain of lack of cooperation from the Delhi government in getting work implemented.
Despite repeated attempts, the Delhi government’s spokesperson couldn’t be contacted.
South Delhi MP Ramesh Bidhuri, who had adopted Bhatti, a rural village, says the Delhi government didn’t provide for gram sabha land for various development projects recommended by him under SAGY. “I had recommended the construction of a community centre, a veterinary hospital, a post office etc. But the government didn’t agree to allot gram sabha land for these projects. There is no Delhi Transport Bus service to the village. I had requested for a special bus route, but it hasn’t been done. I have written several letters to previous chief secretaries, but nothing was been done,” said Bidhuri.
North-east Delhi MP, Manoj Tiwari, and west Delhi MP, Parvesh Verma, agree with Bidhuri. “It was challenge to get work done in the villages. Despite several meetings with the district magistrates, it was difficult to get work done by Delhi government agencies such as Delhi Jal Board. Moreover, people’s expectations were very different from what the SAGY envisaged. Villagers thought the Centre will sanction funds for the village. We took up projects as demanded by residents of the villages,” said Verma, who claims to have spent Rs 12 crore on Jharoda Kalan, a rural village adopted by him.
A senior Delhi government official said work in the villages had to be done by government agencies. “District magistrates are supposed to monitor the work, but the funds have to be sanctioned by the government or the MPs,” said the official, requesting anonymity.