New deal for rural India in the offing (Second Lead)

June 4th, 2009 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) With two-thirds of India’s billion-plus people living in its 650,000 villages, India’s new government Thursday outlined a five-year agenda that promises a new deal for rural India, including improved agricultural practices,better roads, modern communication, access to drinking water, housing and overall improvement of its infrastructure.
If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised a “new deal for rural India” when he took charge of the high office for the first time in 2004, President Pratibha Patil, reading out the government’s action plan in parliament Thursday, said the targets of all flagship programmes for rural development would be stepped up under his second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

“My government launched Bharat Nirman (Build India) five years ago as a time-bound business plan for rural infrastructure,” the president said in her address to the first joint session of parliament after the constitution of the 15th Lok Sabha following the elections.

The elections returned the UPA to power with a convincing majority, with a large chunk of votes coming from rural India where multi-milllion rupee public works and job programmes have left lasting impact and made significant dents in the battle against poverty and deprivation that haunts significant sections of the country’s 1.2 billion population.

“The government succeeded in reaching basic infrastructure of roads, electricity and telephone to a large number of villages. It has also achieved most of the targets of rural water supply, rural housing and has increased irrigation potential,” she added.

“The remaining tasks will be completed in the second phase of Bharat Nirman.”

The various initiatives for the new government covering rural India outlined by the president included:

- Twelve million new houses over next five years

- Successful conclusion of water supply programme by 2011

- Target of 40 percent telecom penetration by 2014

- Enhanced target for electricity, irrigation and roads

- New food security legislation for 25 kg of food grain per family per month

- More investments for agriculture, irrigation

- Expansion of national rural health mission

- Health insurance for all poor families by 2012

- Legislative amendments to prevent unfair displacement of farmers

- Training for village administration to man flagship programmes

- Quarterly reports on Bharat Nirman to be made public by ministers

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