In his first Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) as part of nation-building, urging Lok Sabha MPs to “make one village of his or her constituency a Model Village by 2016… after 2016, select two more villages… and after 2019… at least five model villages”. He also asked Rajya Sabha MPs to “adopt one of the villages”, saying “if we provide one model village in each district of India, then the surrounding villages shall be automatically inspired to follow that model”.
Five years down the line, official data shows that the progress of SAGY has been sluggish — about two-thirds of Lok Sabha MPs are yet to select gram panchayats under Phase-4 of the scheme. The total strength of both Houses is about 790 which include elected as well as nominated members.
In Phase-1 of SAGY, 703 MPs had adopted gram panchayats but that number went down to 497 in Phase-2 and 301 in Phase-3, showing a gradual decline in subsequent phases. Since the launch of the scheme on October 11, 2014, less than two months after the Prime Minister’s announcement, only 1,753 gram panchayats have been selected across four phases, way below the expected figure.
According to data available till the end of December 2019 on the website of the Ministry of Rural Development, only 252 MPs have adopted gram panchayats under Phase-4 of SAGY — 208 members of Lok Sabha and 44 members of Rajya Sabha.
The Lok Sabha has a total strength of 545 members which includes 543 elected members and two nominated members. Similarly, Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245 members which includes 12 nominated members. As on January 1, 2020, the total number of sitting members of Rajya Sabha is 240 while five seats are vacant.
Under the SAGY, each MP was required to identify one gram panchayat of his or her choice for developing it as an Adarsh Gram (Model Village) every year. But the latest data shows that more than six months after the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha, about two-thirds of the members of the Lower House are yet to select a gram panchayat under Phase-4.
The website gives no reason for the slow start of Phase-4 and Ministry officials did not responded to phone calls for comment.
Last month, a standing committee of Parliament raised red flags. “The vision behind the evolution of SAGY villages was to create model villages by ensuring convergence and dovetailing of schemes and its proper implementation on priority basis. However, the seriousness required to achieve the motto is lacking as faced by the Members of Parliament. The Committee, therefore, recommends DoRD (Department of Rural Development) to ensure that the SAGY villages are dealt with the vision envisaged under the scheme and are not left behind,” the Standing Committee on Rural Development stated in its report presented to Parliament on December 5, 2019.