- After select cities, it is now the turn of 300 village clusters to be ‘smart’. The decision was taken by the Cabinet on Wednesday.
- The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission, named after the founder of the Jan Sangh, is aimed at setting up these clusters by 2019-20 across the country.
- The Cabinet approved the scheme under which village clusters will have 14 mandatory components, including
- skill development training linked to economic activities,
- digital literacy,
- fully equipped mobile health unit,
- inter-village road connectivity,
- waste management facilities,
- agro-processing units ……. and so on.
- The cost of developing a cluster might vary between Rs 50 crore and Rs 52 crore.
- The preferred mode of delivery would be through public-private-partnerships while using various scheme funds.
- Under the scheme, state governments would identify the clusters in accordance with the framework for implementation prepared by the Ministry of Rural Development.
- The Mission aims to spur economic, social and infrastructure development in rural areas.
- The Mission, which was announced last year to replace the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas or PURA initiative, aims at improving the quality of people’s lives by involving the state governments.PURA was limited to the private sector. There was no government participation in it.That is why it failed. It was planned at 13 places out of which it could not take off in four, while the results of the nine were also not good.
- The Mission will focus on creating community assets and improving basic infrastructure such as roads, shelter, power and drinking water in rural belts.
- There would be a separate approach for selection of clusters in tribal and non-tribal districts.
- As far as practicable, clusters of villages would follow administrative convergence units of Gram Panchayats.
- The Mission is aimed at :
- improving the quality of life of people in the cluster.
- bridging the rural-urban divide.
- reducing distress migration from rural to urban areas.
- The clusters will also provide
- citizen service centres – for electronic delivery of citizen centric services and e-gram connectivity
- public transport
- liquid petroleum gas connections
- Agri-services including storage and warehousing
- provision of piped water supply
- upgraded education facilities.