The roots of Gujarat’s holistic approach towards rural development can be traced back to Shri. Narendrabhai Modi’s early years. As pracharak and party-worker, Shri Modi travelled the length and breadth of this country. He stayed with local workers, shared meals with them and in doing so developed a deep understanding of the issues plaguing rural India. Thus, Rural Development schemes in Gujarat deal with subjects as diverse as rural housing and employment, forestation, grievance redressal, sanitation, cleanliness and promotion of peace and brotherhood.
Elections in villages are often acrimonious and the bitterness creates impediments in the development of the village. In order to prevent such hindrances, the Government of Gujarat launched the Samaras Gram Yojana. Under this initiative, villages, which select a Sarpanch by consensus, receive monetary benefits. Almost 3700 villages in the state are now ‘Samaras villages’ and have received Rs.2306.4 lakh from the government.
Houses in rural India often lack toilets leading to uncomfortable situations for the residents, especially women. Empathising with them, the government of Gujarat has launched the Nirmal Gram Yojana. In the past decade over four lakh toilets have been built in Gujarat and today there are over 4000 Nirmal Villages in the state, up from only 4 a decade back.
Understanding the importance of a clean and green environment for the well-rounded development of the state, the government of Gujarat has launched schemes to promote cleanliness in the villages and has undertaken afforestation drives. Under the ‘Swachch Gram Swasth Gram scheme,’ sanitation and hygiene are highlighted and monetary incentives are offered to villages, which undertake cleanliness drives. Under the ‘Panchavati Yojana’ the advantages of tree-plantation are explained to the people and fallow lands are identified for tree plantation drives. These schemes have not only made the villages more scenic but have also improved rural health.
To address the housing problem in rural areas, especially amongst Artisans and landless labourers, the Government of Gujarat has launched the Sardar Patel Awaas Yojana. Under this scheme, the government provides free plots of land for the purpose of house-building to BPL card holders. This scheme has been immensely successful and has been very well received across the state. Gujarat is an innovator when it comes to incorporating technology into Governance. Under the ‘E-Gram Vishwa Gram Yojana’ computers with broadband internet connections have been installed in all Gram Panchayats across the state. These centres provide a number of services to the people such as providing birth/death certificates, proofs of income, caste certificates and residence proofs. Realizing the opportunity E-gram centres provide for facilitating exchange of ideas, Voice over Internet Protocol facility has also been provided to the E-gram centres. This has led to increased communication between village officials and the state leadership.
It was Mahatma Gandhi’s vision that village-level problems be solved locally. Abiding by this philosophy, the Government of Gujarat launched the Gram SWAGAT program. Under this program, aggrieved citizens in villages can lodge their complaints at the E-Gram centres. These complaints are then taken up by the Taluka Mamlatdar and are solved in a time-bound fashion. In addition to these, schemes like the Garib Kalyan Mela , Krishi Mohatsav and Jyotigram Yojana have been instrumental in the overall development of the rural areas. The Garib Kalyan Mela, a ground-breaking program of the Government of Gujarat makes it easier for the people to receive entitlements from the government.. The Government has organized around 1000 Garib Kalyan Melas resulting in 85 lakh people receiving benefits worth 12,500 crores from the state government. Krishi Mahotsav has been a key driver behind Gujarat’s phenomenal Agriculture growth-rate and it functions on similar lines. It includes kit distribution, cattle vaccination programs, and provision of soil health cards. In the recent Krishi Mahotsav, benefits worth 720 crores were provided to 15.17 lakh farmers in Gujarat. Because of the Jyotigram Yojana, which guarantees 24-Hour uninterrupted power to the villages, the quality of life in villages has gone up manifold.
These schemes have resulted in a substantial improvement in the quality of life in villages. The overall industrial development of the state has led to increased employment opportunities in villages. Owing to these factors, migration from rural to urban areas has reduced by 33 percent.
References –‘The Gujarat’ January 2012 Issue, Cover Story – Panchayat Power
Gujarat Leads – All the Way.