Cabinet approves mission for urban facilities in rural areas

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) In an ambitious bid to transform rural areas into economically, socially and physically sustainable spaces, the union cabinet on Wednesday approved the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) with an outlay of Rs.5,142.08 crore.

“The union cabinet gave its nod to SPMRM to drive economic, social and infrastructure development in rural areas,” Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press briefing after a cabinet meeting.

“The state governments would identify the clusters in accordance with the framework for implementation prepared by the ministry of rural development,” he said.

Prasad said these clusters would be developed by provisioning of economic activities, developing skills and local entrepreneurship and providing infrastructure amenities.

The minister said 300 clusters will be developed over the next three years across the country, and the states will prepare the Integrated Cluster Action Plans for the mission.

“The clusters will be geographically contiguous gram panchayats with a population of about 25,000-50,000 in plain and coastal areas and a population of 5,000-15,000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas,” he said.

“There would be a separate approach for selection of clusters in tribal and non-tribal districts. As far as practicable, clusters of villages would follow administrative convergence units of gram panchayats,” said a government statement.

The rural development ministry would adopt a scientific process of cluster selection which involves an objective analysis at the district, sub-district and village levels, of the demography, economy, tourism and pilgrimage significance and transportation corridor impact.

To ensure an optimum level of development, 14 components have been suggested as desirable for the cluster, which would include skill development training linked to economic activities, agro processing and warehousing, digital literacy, sanitation, provision of piped water supply, solid and liquid waste management, village streets and drains and street lights etc.

The mission envisages institutional arrangements both at the state and central levels to ensure smooth implementation of the mission.

The mission also has an “innovation budget” towards facilitating research, development and capacity building.

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