The Bharat Nirman scheme announced by the Prime Minister( PM) openly at least, has the full support of politicians, political parties and generally also the media. But while accepting it as an excellent scheme, even friendly comment asks, `how is the project going to be translated into action?' After all, there have been many such schemes and "Yojanas" announced almost by all the PMs in the past and hardly have any progressed!
The key to answer that question to my mind, is the Prime Minister's statement: "Boldness in innovation and commitment to decentralization should be the drivers for delivery improvement", and "This can be done only through...the involvement of all stakeholders,"- and that must include the rural communities and their Panchayats; industries - the large industrial houses as well as the smaller enterprises closer to the ground; the civil society - NGOs, Universities, Think Tanks, and above all the educated youth.
The PM recently launched Bharat Nirman, calling upon the captains of industry to join hands in the massive effort for strengthening the rural infrastructure. He said the four-year development initiative was aimed at building six lakh houses, adding 10 million hectares of irrigation capacity, connecting 66,802 villages with all-weather roads, electrifying the remaining 1,00,000 villages, providing safe drinking water in 55,000 villages and rural telephony in all villages by 2009. While most of the funding will come from the Government's development outlays, a "Specific Financing Window" is proposed through NABARD for funding selected components. The model of delivery will involve the Panchayats and the private sector as partners.
This seems to be the latest position in the commencement of the massive programme after nearly one year of its four year schedule of 2005-09. It has to be taken as given that the Panchayats by and large, are neither empowered nor equipped to take on even a small part of the programme. No arrangements for assigning responsibilities, supervision of the executing agencies, routing of funds for approved projects, accounting and accountability, etc., have yet been announced. Vague statements are being made in the Press and otherwise that unless the administration is reformed from the political level downwards, a programme of this magnitude cannot be taken up. This of course, is unacceptable.