New Delhi: The UPA government’s ambitious Bharat Nirman initiative, aimed at improving the rural infrastructure for an estimated Rs1,76,000 crore, seems to be progressing at snail’s pace as not even half of the target has been met under the four-year programme ending next month.
Even as the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself expressed his displeasure at the slow progress, at a review meeting of the programme, achievements remain abysmally low.
The three key areas in infrastructure - electrification, roads and irrigation - out of the total six, has made bleak progress according to a government’s report on the initiative till December 2008.
Singh chairs the Committee on Rural Infrastructure, which monitors the implementation of the programme, a part of the Common Minimum Programme of the ruling alliance at the Centre and was to be implemented over 2005-09.
Under rural electrification, only 17.95% of the targeted 230 lakh rural below-poverty-line households, have been electrified till December 2008.
“It was targeted to provide electrification to 1.25 lakh villages and electrify 230 lakh BPL households. Against this, 64978 villages are electrified and 41.29 lakh BPL households provided electric connection till December 2008,” the official documents show.
At the same time, against a target of creating additional irrigation capacity of 10 million hectares (mha), only 5.08 mha has been achieved.
Likewise, rural roads remain an area of concern with only 345 of the targeted 66,802 habitations connected through road network and only 1.63 lakh km of new roads and upgraded rural roads constructed till December, 2008 against a target of 3.40 lakh km road network.
However, the progress has been relatively better in terms of providing telephone connectivity in villages, drinking water and building houses, although even in these areas 18-27% work needs to be completed by March 2009.
As regards providing telephone connections to rural households 27% target is still to be achieved in the present quarter while 23% of the targeted habitations are still without drinking water facility.
The only area where target achievement is more than 80% remains housing with government claiming construction of 41.29 lakh households out of 60 lakh under infrastructure strengthening programme.
In his address to Parliament in 2005, the President outlined an overarching vision to build India, and called it ‘Bharat Nirman´.