Sadak, Bijli, Paani Sarkar
The rural development ministry has kept up the good work of the previous Modi government. It needs to expand its focus in the second term
The Journey So Far
The Narendra Singh Tomar-led ministry of rural development (MoRD) aimed to complete 1 million natural resource management (NRM) or water conservation projects under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in its first 100 days. As of August 30, 661,003 NRMs had been completed.
Under the Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA), nearly 211,000 works in 1,146 selected rural blocks are to be completed. As of August 30, 157,688 had been finished.
After Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) I and II , PMGSY-III guidelines are being finalised, with the objective of constructing 125,000 km of rural roads
With women’s self-help groups (SHGs) becoming the new model for women’s entrepreneurship and female empowerment in rural areas, the MoRD has been focusing on converting nano enterprises run by such women’s SHGs into small and micro enterprises. By involving SHGs, 59,120 rural start-ups have been brought under the village start-up enterprise programme. The ministry has provided Rs 150.8 crore from the community enterprise fund to create the village start-up enterprise programme.
Is It Enough?
In the NDA government’s first term, the focus was on developing rural infrastructure, such as roads, houses and toilets. However, the recent drought exposed the limitations of these programmes. Per available data, only 16 per cent of projects in 2018-19 were drought related.
The ministry is reorienting MGNREGS toward water conservation by reserving at least 75 per cent of work-days for water storage and agricultural activity-related work
The ministry says that over 7 million rural households from droughtaffected regions sought employment under MGNREGS. Households that need employment span across 105 districts across the country, covering 3,000 panchayats.
Some 6.3 million households got work, but of those, only 900,000 got 100 days of employment, while only 700,000 managed 150 days of employment. The government has called for additional employment in rural districts, over and above the 100 days per household under MGNREGS.
The Unfinished Agenda
The focus on potable water in rural areas should be taken further. The MoRD should develop large-scale rural water piping projects and link them to clean sources of water.
There needs to be a focus on cleaning rural water bodies, including tanks, ponds and wells. This will reduce the spread of water-borne diseases like dysentery and typhoid.
Linking villages to towns and village households to main roads under PMGSY-III. Further, rural roads need to be regularly maintained and repaired, such as after the monsoons.
Creating jobs for rural women to rectify the declining ratio of women in the workforce
Reskilling the unskilled labour force in rural areas and remunerating them while they acquire those skills, in order to ensure strong motivation
A BRICK IN THE WALL A newly-constructed toilet in Bhopal district, MP