`More autonomy for states to implement rural schemes`

The centre plans to introduce flexibility in implementing its flagship rural development programmes all over the country, a top official said.

Mumbai: As part of innovations in the 12th Five Year Plan, the centre plans to introduce flexibility in implementing its flagship rural development programmes all over the country, a top official said here on Sunday.

Under this, the centre plans to transfer 50 percent of funds earmarked for rural development programmes to the states, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said, delivering the keynote address at a two-day National Consultation on Gender Empowerment, organised by University of Mumbai and UN Women, the varsity`s Kalina Campus, here on Sunday.

"The states can utilize these (50 Percent) funds to implement schemes as per their requirements, subject to broad guidelines, while the rest of the funds would be spent as per national guidelines prescribed for each such programme," Ramesh said.

India is a country with great diversity and all nationally conceived programmes, which are subject to guidelines, suffer from inflexibility, he said.

He cited the instance of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), which connects all villages with 500 people by all-weather (navigable round the year) roads, which has not been able to address the problems of connectivity in most tribal areas as well as desert regions of Rajasthan.

"This has affect service delivery, where it is most essential," Ramesh pointed out, adding that some states like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, and recently Maharashtra have taken the initiative to connect smaller habitations left out of the PMGSY.

However, he pointed out to the state government that constructing rural roads was their (the states`) primary responsibility, but because that did not happen, especially in states like West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, the centre had to introduce PMGSY.

Ramesh said that though PMGSY was scheduled to be completed 2007, till date only 60 percent of the work has been completed. The rest of the work is expected to be completed only by 2017.

IANS

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