Rural Development Minister Birender Singh has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to salvage the flagging Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), a project launched by the latter a year and a half ago.
In his recent letter to Modi, Singh has said several MPs have complained about the fundamental issue with the scheme in that it depends entirely on the convergence of various existing schemes and has no dedicated funding of its own.
Singh told The Indian Express that all the MPs, who have complained about the project to the Centre, are unanimous in their opinion that there should be separate funding for the project. “I have conveyed the MPs’ opinion to the PM. One solution is to increase the MP Local Area Development fund. But that is beyond my purview. The other alternative is to provide a ministry funding of Rs 50 lakh per Adarsh Gram towards the estimated cost of Rs 2 crore to Rs 12 crore required for the development of each such gram,” said Singh.
Singh’s letter has been prompted by the tepid response to Phase II of SAGY. Of the total 795 legislators in both Houses of Parliament, merely 60—about 7.5 per cent—have chosen a model village. This, despite the fact that at the beginning of this year, the minister had written to each MP, asking them to select a village by January 31. Only half of these are BJP legislators, which includes Modi who has chosen Nagepur as his next model village after Jayapur, both of which are in the Varanasi constituency he represents.
Even in Phase I, about 96 MPs, a majority from Rajya Sabha, are yet to even adopt a single gram panchayat. Fifty-four of these MPs are from West Bengal where the PM’s scheme has not found many takers among several of the Trinamool Congress MPs.
“We plan to hold a conclave with industry bodies soon to get them to use their CSR funding for these projects,” said Singh. According to sources, SAGY already has a CSR funding component but other than in Maharashtra, reliance on corporate funding has not yielded much.
Learning from mistakes, the ministry launched its Rurban mission in February this year with a provision for 30 per cent critical gap funding. “We have taken this precaution in case states are not able to arrange sufficient funds,” said Singh.
SAGY has been given no budgetary allocation with MPs expected to funnel money to selected villages through the convergence of 21 ongoing schemes such as Indira Awaas Yojana for rural housing, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and Beti Bachao Beti Padao.
“The problem with convergence is that it depends on the state. In several states, even MPs from the governing party may not get along with the CM or their interest may not fit in with the larger political canvas of the state. Moreover, where regional parties are in power, they have their own priorities,” said Singh.