Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on August 15 announced a scheme under which parliamentarians would adopt a village in their constituencies, MPs from Mumbai, all from the Shiv Sena-BJP combine, are confused and at a loss to understand how to implement the scheme.
Their argument is that Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, is a completely urbanised and a highly developed region. The city has a heritage of 189 gaothans and 32 koliwadas, but even these are well developed, some MPs say, with the biggest issue surrounding them being redevelopment. Adopting a village elsewhere will be fraught with jurisdiction problems and lack of clarity on funding outside their constituencies, the MPs feel.
Gajanan Kirtikar, Shiv Sena MP from the Mumbai North West constituency, “We are confused about how the model villages scheme is to be implemented in urban areas. We don’t have villages here. Even the gaothans of Mumbai cannot be compared to villages. Our problems are slums, but a permanent solution to that can only be redevelopment, which is a whole different issue.”
He added that the scheme is difficult to be implemented even for an MP from a primarily rural district, which has 200-300 villages. “If he selects one village and focuses his attention on developing it as a model village, others may feel neglected and this might not work in the MP’s favour from the election point of view,” Kirtikar said.
Speaking from the ramparts of Delhi’s historic Red Fort, the prime minister had included in his Independence Day speech the announcement of a ‘Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.’ Under this scheme, every MP is to select one village with a population of three thousand to 5,000 in his constituency and make it a model village by 2016, working on the conditions of health, cleanliness, atmosphere and greenery. After 2016, the MPs are to select two more villages and develop them as model villages before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Modi said MPs in urban areas can adopt any village of their choice.
Rahul Shewale, Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai South Central, said, “If we pick a village in someone else’s constituency, it may lead to jurisdiction clashes. There are many gaothans and koliwadas in my constituency, but the city’s civic body has a scheme for the development and maintenance of basic parameters in gaothans. We have developed the Trombay gaothan area under that scheme.” Shewale said he hopes there is more clarity on the scheme once the Centre rolls out the blueprint in October.
Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai South, also said he was waiting for the Centre to spell out the parameters for the development of villages, and whether the parliamentarians have to use their local area development funds, or if additional funds will be made available.
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