Rurban Mission can ease cities' burden

The National Rurban Mission, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently, is yet another welcome scheme from the NDA government, aimed at development of the most important section of the country’s population. The programme is targeted at the rural population and is intended to provide urban facilities to rural areas, without their losing the milieu and atmosphere associated with them. The plan is to make centres of growth in rural areas, creating smart villages to complement the smart cities envisaged in another government scheme. This had been discussed about 10 years ago under the PURA (Provision of Urban Facilities to Rural Areas) concept. The idea was to
create rural clusters linked by roads which would have modern facilities and would become hubs of development. The Rurban Mission has evolved from this idea.

The mission plans to develop 300 rural centres, each catering to four villages in remote parts of the country as urban clusters with modern facilities. The clusters will have good education, health, transport and communication facilities. They will also be provided with facilities for industrial activities like agro-processing and skill development programmes and services required to support these activities. Such growth centres can give a major boost to development. About 70% of the country’s population lives in villages and without involving them, development will not be real and complete. Uneven development can aggravate inequalities and increase social conflict. The country has seen increasing migration from rural areas to urban centres by people seeking employment and better life. That strains cities also which are unable to provide basic facilities even to its residents. If the rurban plan works well it can slow down such shifts of people and enhance the quality of life in villages.

The plan is to set up 100 centres this year and expand the programme in phases. As in the case of other missions launched by the government, implementation is the key to the success of this programme too. Even year-old programmes like Swachh Bharat mission have not worked the way they were expected to. While the prime minister has criticised past governments for their attitudes, approaches and methods, his own claims and aims are yet to be vindicated. Unfortunately, national life and discourses are also badly vitiated by unwholesome controversies which do not provide a congenial atmosphere for development. As the government and those close to it have a role in the vitiation of the atmosphere, its claims and intentions may even sound unreal to many. The implementation of the programmes may suffer too.

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