The development of rural India is an imperative for inclusive and equitable growth and to unlock huge potential of the population that is presently trapped in poverty with its associated deprivations.
The analysis of incidence of poverty across Indian States indicates that poverty is very closely linked to the absence of social infrastructure.
The Eleventh Finance Commission had constructed an index ol infrastructure which included economic, social and administrative infrastructure indicators. These were (i) agriculture (ii) banking (iii) electricity (iv) transport (v) communication (vi) health and (vii) civil administration. If we juxtapose the index of infrastructure with incidence of poverty, we find that generally, States with high infrastructure index have low incidence of poverty.
Creation of infrastructure, both physical and social, has been given a greater thrust in the Tenth Five Year Plan. The Eleventh Plan would build on the foundations laid by the Bharat Nirman Programme and other Flagship Programmes to provide opportunities for improved living conditions as well as livelihoods.
Government of India in recognition of the role played by infrastructure in poverty removal has taken up massive programmes for construction of rural infrastructure under different programmes in the past.
The Government launched a time bound plan under Bharat Nirman in 2005 for implementation during the four-year period 2005-2009. The first half of the programme was in Tenth Plan and second half j coincides with the first two years of Eleventh Plan period (2007-2012). The six components included under programme are irrigation, drinking water, electrification, roads, housing and rural telephony
Under Bharat Nirman the creation of average rate of irrigation potential creation is to be increased from 1.4 mha/annum (i.e. the average rate of creation from 1951-2002) to 2.5 mha/annum. With this objective, it is targeted to create 10 mha of irrigation potential through a combination of major and medium projects, minor irrigation and restoration of water bodies. Eleventh Five Year Plan would target to create 16 mha potential.
Rural connectivity is the key component of rural development and poverty alleviation in India. Rural roads provide accessibility for the rural habitations to market and other facility centres. In order to give a boost to rural connectivity, a rural roads programme, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched as a 100 per cent centrally sponsored scheme in December 2000.
Bharat Nirman envisages a massive scaling up of the programme in terms of habitation connectivity coverage, construction targets and financial investment. To achieve the targets of Bharat Nirman, 1, 46,185 kms of rural roads are proposed to be constructed to benefit 66,802 unconnected eligible habitations in the country. It is also proposed to upgrade nearly 1.94 lakhs km of the existing rural roads which are identified through routes of the core network.
Bharat Nirman envisages covering the 55,067 not covered habitations, covering the slipped back habitations from not-covered to partially-covered status and providing safe drinking water to water quality affected habitations.
The rural electrification targets are set to be achieved under Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidhyuthikaran Yojana. The twin objective of electrification of 1, 25,000 villages and electrifying the 2.3 crore BPL households are proposed to be achieved under Bharat Nirman.
Bharat Nirman Programme has recognized and accorded due priority to the need to end shelterle the programme has set a target to construct 60 lakhs houses from 2005 to 2009. In the first two years Bharat Nirman, 28.69 lakhs houses have been constructed the housing programme of Bharat Nirman being implemented in parallel with Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) scheme. This scheme was launched as independent and major housing scheme from 1st January 1996, to provide assistance for const up gradation of dwelling units to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) rural households.
For the Eleventh Plan the focus should be on targeting the poorest of the poor while targeting remaining housing shortage with other interventions.
Under the Bharat Nirman Programme, 66,822 revenue villages not having telephone connectivity is are provided with Village Public Telephone (VPT) facility. Out of these, 14,183 remotely located vii were to be provided VPTs through Digital Satellite Phone Terminals (DSPTs) while the remaining 52 villages were to be provided any other technology.