Bharat Nirman tops Singh's agenda

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 16.12.05
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New Delhi, Dec. 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today mooted a “specific financing window” for the ambitious Rs 1,74,000-crore Bharat Nirman programme.

“We are proposing a specific financing window for Bharat Nirman through Nabard for funding selected components, although most of the resources will come from the government’s development outlays,” Singh told a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The conference, which marks the formal launch of the four-year development initiative, is aimed at building 6 lakh houses, add 10 million hectares of irrigation capacity, connect 66,802 hamlets with all-weather roads, bring electricity to the remaining 1,00,000 villages, provide safe drinking water and rural telephony to 55,000 villages.

Though the model of delivery will vary between components, the Prime Minister proposes to involve Panchayats and the private sector as partners.

“The Planning Commission is working on ways to enhance the management of rural infrastructure programmes by Panchayats,” he said and added that state governments and local bodies were critical to effective delivery of the programme.

State governments are key implementing agencies and Panchayats need to activate demands without which the service delivery will not be effective, Singh said.

Quoting global management experts on the potential of rural India, he said it is the wealth of opportunity available at the “bottom of the pyramid”.

“Instead of restricting yourself to competing in existing markets at the ‘top of the pyramid’ of our society, attention is being drawn to the possibilities of creating new markets at the bottom,” the Prime Minister said.

Stressing that the major challenge of the economic reform programme is to balance the growth process and bridge divides, he said the plan aims at removing this divide by creating rural infrastructure in six areas ? irrigation, water supply, housing, roads, telephony and electrification.

He said by 2009, in four of these areas “we would like to see universal coverage where every village in India with more than 1,000 population would have an all-weather road, every habitation would have water supply, every village a telephone and all villages would be electrified”.

Concerned over the loss of momentum in recent years in rural electrification, Singh said he was convinced that people would be willing to pay for reliable supply of power.

“Energy is an economic resource, every user knows the benefit we derive from safe and reliable source of energy. I am sure consumers will he happy to pay for this energy,” he said.