In a bid to transform rural areas to economically, socially and physically sustainable spaces, the Cabinet Wednesday approved the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) with an outlay of Rs 5,142.08 crore to set up 300 rural clusters across the country by 2019-20.
“The mission aims at development of rural growth clusters which have latent potential for growth, in all states and UTs, which would trigger overall development in the region. These clusters would be developed by provisioning of economic activities, developing skills and local entrepreneurship, and providing infrastructure amenities… (it) will thus develop a cluster of smart villages,” said the government.
Asked how SPMRM would be different from PURA (Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said, “PURA was limited to private sector. There was no government participation in it. That is why it failed. A need was felt to initiate the scheme in a new format.”
Under the plan, the state governments will identify the clusters in accordance with the framework for implementation prepared by the Ministry of Rural Development. The clusters will be geographically contiguous gram panchayats with a population of 25,000-50,000 in the plains and coastal areas, and a population of 5,000-15,000 in the desert, hilly or tribal areas. There will be a separate approach for selection of clusters in tribal and non-tribal districts.
To ensure development, 14 components have been suggested. These include skill development training, agro processing/ agri services/ storage, digital literacy, sanitation, piped water supply, solid and liquid waste management, village streets and drains, street lights, mobile health unit, upgrading school, inter-village road connectivity, citizen service centres for electronic delivery of citizen centric services/ e-gram connectivity, public transport and LPG gas connections.
NREGA: 50 extra days in drought-hit areas
The Cabinet on Wednesday gave its ex-post facto approval to provide an additional 50 days of unskilled manual work, besides the 100 days assured to job card holders under the MGNREGA in rural areas where drought or natural calamities have been notified. “This will enable states to provide additional wage jobs to the poor in drought-hit areas… it will help in immediate absorption of rural seasonal unemployment,” said the government.