Govt wants PPP model in PURA implementation

Inviting expression of interest for the implementation of Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) "on pilot basis", Rural Development Ministry has said companies should have annual turnover worth Rs 25 crore and experience of developing infrastructure projects worth at least Rs 50 crore to participate in the ambitious project, sources in the ministry said.

As per guidelines in the public-private participation (PPP) frame work, the eligible companies could either be a single entity or a consortium, they added.
PURA, a pet project of former president APJ Abdul Kalam, had first been implemented on a pilot basis from 2004-05 for a period of three years in seven clusters -- one each in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.
It was restructured by the ministry and passed by Union Cabinet for a plan outlay of Rs 248 crore in January this year to implement the scheme on a pilot basis again.
The objective of the scheme is to provide livelihood opportunities and urban amenities in rural areas to bridge the rural-urban divide.

The scheme envisages holistic and accelerated development of areas around a potential growth centre in a gram panchayat or group of gram panchayats in PPP framework.
The framework of bringing together public funds and private capital for creation of infrastructure in rural areas and leveraging upon private sector expertise to manage and maintain the same during the concession period, forms the essence of the re-structured PURA scheme, an official said.

The selected private partners would be required to provide amenities like water supply and sewerage, roads, drainage, solid waste management, street lighting and power distribution and undertake some economic and skill development activity as part of the PURA project."The private partners may also provide 'add-on revenue-earning' facilities such as village-linked tourism, integrated rural hub, rural market, agri-common services centre and warehousing," the official said.

Where the PURA project spans over several panchayats in a cluster, the private partner would propose sub-projects with PURA elements for each of the panchayats, he said.
Lack of livelihood opportunities, modern amenities and services for decent living in rural areas has led to migration of people to urban areas. There are wide gaps in the availability of physical and social infrastructure between rural and urban areas.
"To address these issues, former president A P J Abdul Kalam had highlighted a vision of transformation of rural India through launching this mega mission during his term," official said.

Through the implementation of proposed pilot projects, the unique features of this scheme would be tested on the ground that will provide lessons for upscaling in the future.Besides, the entire process will help strengthen the institutional ability of a gram panchayat to undertake PPP and help pilot-test the viability of PPPs in rural infrastructure development."Based on the experience of the pilots, the scheme would be suitably modified for scaling up in future," he said.

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