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Programme-A pathway of rural uplift

(Sudhir Tiwari)

Development of backward regions has been a major concern of the Government. Initial approaches to address this issue consisted of assistance for development to backward States and special area programmes.  In the Tenth Plan, it was decided to have a new approach to target these areas through a specific programme for backward areas and the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) was introduced in 2003-04 which was subsumed into the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) programme in 2006-07.  The BRGF programme was launched by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at Barpeta (Assam) on 19.2.2007.  It covers 250 districts in 27 States as against 147 districts (27 States) covered by the RSVY. 

The BRGF Programme aims to catalyse development in backward areas by providing infrastructure, promoting good governance and agrarian reforms, converging, through supplementary infrastructure and capacity building, the substantial existing development inflows into these districts. The Fund accordingly provides financial resources for supplementing and converging existing development inflows into identified districts, to Bridge critical gaps in local infrastructure and other development requirements that are not being adequately met through existing inflows; To strengthen Panchayat and Municipality level governance with more appropriate capacity building to facilitate participatory planning, decision making, implementation and monitoring and to reflect local felt needs; Provide professional support to local bodies for planning, implementation and monitoring their plans; Improve the performance and delivery of critical functions assigned to Panchyats and counter possible efficiency and equity losses on account of inadequate local capacity.

Funding Pattern

The BRGF consists of two funding windows a Capability Building Fund of Rs. 250 crore per annum calculated @t Rs. 1 crore per district per year to build capacity in planning, implementation, monitoring, accounting and improving accountability and transparency. Second a substantially untied grant for the balance amount of the annual allocation which is distributed among the districts concerned where every district receives a fixed minimum amount of Rs. 10 crore per annum and 50% of the balance allocation under the Scheme is allocated on the basis of the share of the population of the district in the total population of all backward districts.

All funds sanctioned by the Ministry under the Programme are transferred to the Consolidated Funds of the State Government concerned.  These funds are required to be transferred to the Panchayats, the Municipalities and other implementing authorities  by the State Governments.

In the years 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10, the Budget allocations under BRGF were Rs. 4670 crore per year. 

The planning process under BRGF is based on the guidelines for district planning issued by the Planning Commission in August 2006 and January, 2009. The process of integrated development will commence with each district undertaking a diagnostic study of its backwardness and a baseline survey by enlisting professional planning support, to be followed by a well-conceived participatory district development perspective plan to address this backwardness during the period of the Eleventh Five Year Plan.  Such plans will integrate multiple programmes that are in operation in the district concerned and therefore address backwardness through a combination of resources that flow to the district.  This will be done without giving any schematic overlay to BRGF that would be subversive of the principle of local prioritization in planning. 

Physical Targets and  Achievements

Since the district plans are consolidation of plans prepared by each of the planning units, they would vary from Panchayat to Panchayat and District Plan to District Plan, based on locally identified needs. Analysis of the District Plans received in the Ministry so far from the various States indicates that the untied fund allocated to the districts are generally being used for filling infrastructure gaps in drinking water, health, education, social sectors, electrification etc.  The basket of works taken up includes construction of school building/class rooms, toilets, playgrounds, health sub-centre, Ayurveda Centre, bore wells, drinking water facility, sanitation facilities, anganwadi buildings, Panchayat buildings, irrigation tanks/channels, agriculture and animal husbandry facilities, electrification, street lights, link roads, market yards, Haat Bazaars, flood control structures, soil and water conservation measures, cremation/burial grounds, houses for BPL families, training and marketing facilities for SHGs, culverts, suspension bridges etc.           

Typical allocation of resources across a sample State reveals :-

Sl. No.

Sector

   %age spending

1.

Angawadi Buildings

25.0

2.

Schools, Class Rooms compounds etc.

16.3

3.

Drinking water

13.6

4.

Gram Panchayat Buildings

9.6

5.

Electrification

4.4

6.

Health

2.0

7.

Hostel Buildings

1.9

8.

Animal Husbandry

1.5

9.

Others

25.6

 

                    Total

100.0

 Financial Achievements (As on 14.09.2009)

(Amount in Rs. Crore)

Sl. No.

Financial Year

Allocation

Expenditure Achievement

BE

RE

1.

2006-2007

3750.00

1925.00

1925.00

2.

2007-2008

4670.00

3600.00

3600.00

3.

2008-2009

4670.00

3890.00

3889.75

4.

2009-2010

4670.00

-

464.11*

The details of BRGF sanctions as on 14.09.2009 is given below: -

ABSTRACT OF RELEASES IN 2009-10 UNDER BRGF

As on 14.09.2009

 

COMPONENT

Amount (Rs in Crore)

A

RSVY

52.50

B

Capacity Building

15.57

C

Development grant

396.04

 

Total

464.11

Major Achievements    

The Programme has pioneered the tradition of working through the constitutionally empowered planning mechanism of the Panchayats, Municipalities and the District Planning Committees. The Programme has made the decentralised planning process more meaningful, even though the quantum of untied funds is meager. Focus on capacity building of local bodies has enhanced the functionality, confidence and awareness of their elected representatives and officials.  The Programme has contributed to the improvements in local governance performance and functioning of the local bodies and their empowerment. Despite staff constraints, the PRIs & the ULBs have been able to utilise the grants speedily and have created useful assets for the local community. The Programme has stimulated grassroots participation in Gram/Ward/Area Sabhas and bottom-up planning. The discretionary nature of the BRGF development funds to PRIs and small ULBs has been appreciated by the Local Bodies as the most significant feature of the Programme. BRGF stimulated capacity building activities targeted at PRI officials and functionaries.


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