In ministers roadmap, all rural development roads lead to Bhilwara

Written by J P Yadav | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 28 2010, 03:16am hrs
Congress leader CP Joshi, who heads the rural development and panchayati raj ministry, has chosen his own constituency, Bhilwara in Rajasthan, as the laboratory for all development schemes of his ministry. He has been working overtime with officials of the Congress-led Rajasthan government on an ambitious pilot project to turn Bhilwara into a developmental model for the entire country.

The elaborate roadmap entails the convergence in Bhilwara of all ongoing schemes of the two departments of rural development and panchayati raj so that the constituency can be showcased as a role model.

The aim is to achieve holistic development of the area through convergence of all our ongoing schemes in a concentrated way so that it becomes a model for others to come and see how it has been done and replicate the idea, rural development secretary Rita Sharma told The Indian Express.

Senior ministry officials have made several trips to Bhilwara to prepare the Joshi roadmap in consultation with Bhilwara district officials.

Sources said that immediately after taking charge of the ministry, Joshi got on to the jobhe had lost by just one vote in the last Assembly elections, a defeat that dashed his hopes of pipping Ashok Gehlot to the chief ministers chair. People close to him said he has still not given up his dream of becoming CM and monitors Rajasthan very closely. He continues to be state Congress president and chief of the Rajasthan Cricket Association.

Officials spent more than six months in detailed field surveys and identifying families for the schemes. These officials are now giving final touches to Joshis plan. No extra funds are being used but the budget for the plan, sources said, has worked out to nearly Rs 300 crore.

The planning is over. Now they are giving final touches to identification of families and the benchmark survey. The benchmark survey is crucial because only then will we be able to ascertain how it has raised income levels as a result of the convergence and interventions, Sharma said.

The project will basically work on three fronts. Firstly, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the flagship scheme of the department, will be used as a base to converge with others like agriculture, water resources, horticulture, forestry, animal husbandry for all-round development.

Secondly, the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) funds will be used to bring people, particularly women, into self help groups (SHGs) and impart them training for cottage industries like dairy, agro-processing. The project will also market products of the SHGs. The NRLM will also be used to impart training to rural youths who can then be absorbed in the textile units in Bhilwara. Thirdly, the Panchayati Raj departments Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) will be used for overall development of the panchayats. The BRGF often goes unutilised.

All pilot projects are headed for Bhilwara. But the country is diverse and what may work in Rajasthan may not work in other areas, said one of the officials involved in the project groundwork.

Already, the foundation stone for the countrys first Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendramultipurpose panchayat buildinghas been laid in Bhilwara and another pilot project of introducing kiosks for the NREGS is being tried out in Bhilwara.