He made the remark while inaugurating a national conference of state ministers for rural development, panchayati raj and public works on Monday in New Delhi.
The Prime Minister launched a Rs 1,000-crore new integrated watershed development scheme called Haryali to meet the severe water scarcity problem in the different parts of the country. He also expressed concern over the imbalance between India and Bharat (rural India), which should not be allowed to widen. He also called for turning the mission of water conservation into a peoples movement.
Stating that the 10th Plan has emphasised that growth in demand in the economy cannot be raised speedily without a rapid increase in the purchasing power of the majority of the population, he said without it the countrys development would continue to be slow. It will be difficult for us to reach the goal of 8 per cent of gross domestic product growth annually, he said.
He said even at todays growth rate, the demand for many industrial and consumer goods had been rising significantly in rural areas, showing that there were many parts of rural India which were becoming prosperous.
Pointing out at the limitless potential and possibilities of development in rural India, Vajpayee said the country has become self-sufficient in food production, number one in milk production, number two in rice export and number five in wheat export in the world. However, about 1,60,000 villages were not connected with good roads, he said adding that even today 60 per cent of rural households had no electricity, education or healthcare facilities.