Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the 'Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission', which aims to provide urban amenities in rural areas, at a function at Kurubhat, in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh.
The ambitious scheme targets developing 300 villages across the country as growth centres which, the prime minister said would help further expand the government's social security programmes, even as he asserted that his government is for the poor, dalits and other oppressed sections of the society.
The prime minister described the Rurban Mission as one which would enable cluster based development – with a ''rural soul and urban amenities.''
He said the mission was aimed at curbing migration of youth from villages to cities, adding that no government had so far thought about planning and providing facilities even as urban areas continued to expand and slum clusters continued to come up because of migration.
While launching the ambitious scheme in this remote tribal area of Chhattisgarh, Modi said a "huge country" like India cannot have proper economic development unless even the remotest places are developed as growth centres and provided with urban facilities and "good life" like education, healthcare and internet while retaining the "rural spirit".
"There will be big change in quality of life. Pressure on cities will reduce and new cities will be developed, which will be planned and have good economic activity. I am sure crores and crores of people will benefit from this," he said.
"People in villages have been sending their children to cities for good life, education, hospitals, internet. But in the cities, jhuggi jhonpris have been coming up as people continued to migrate from villages. Nobody thought about planning, providing facilities...So even going to cities became difficult.
"Should we then leave such people to their fate? Should we compel people to live in jhuggi jhonpris? We cannot. That is why we came up with this 'Rurban Mission'," the prime minister said.
The programme will follow a cluster approach whereby a group of 5-7 villages will be formed catering population of around 25,000 people. The cluster will witness development in different sectors, including economic standards, electricity, health and education facilities and employment opportunities, he said.
Under the Rurban Mission, Murmunda village cluster in Rajnandgaon will cater to 16 village panchayats – Kurrubhat, Bhagwantola, Bhandarpur, Haransinghi, Jamri, Jatkanhar, Khallari, Matketa, Medha, Mudhpar, Murmunda, Nagtarai, Pinkapar, Pipariya, Rajkatta and Raka.
Four districts- Rajnandgaon, Dhamtari, Kabirdham and Bastar - of the state will be covered under the Rurban scheme in the first stage where development work will be carried out in four different clusters, which will draw an investment of Rs120 crore.
"There are small villages where even the doctor does not go," Modi said, adding the Rurban Mission will at help ensure that urban level healthcare reaches the adjoining villages of such rural areas.
Modi also launched a 'Jan Aushadi Bhandaar' campaign for providing cheap medication to people, during the function.
He said this scheme would complement the Smart Cities initiative by creating Smart Villages. The prime minister described Rurban clusters as centres of economic activity, which would spur growth, and improve the quality of life in nearby villages.
Modi said the country is taking a new direction of development and the government us being brought to the doorstep of the villages and the tribal communities, adding that the fact that the important the 'Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission' was being launched not from New Delhi, but from Kurubhat, in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh, is one example of this.
The prime minister congratulated villages and communities of nearby areas for achieving open defecation-free status.
He also talked about the recently-launched crop insurance scheme and said it was the first time that such a major protective cover had been provided to the farmers who have to suffer the vagaries of weather.
Earlier, the prime minister visited an exhibition at the venue, which showcased the implementation of development schemes, and handicrafts.