Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa announced in the Legislative Assembly on Monday 36 schemes which will give a push to agriculture and rural development and check migration of people from rural areas to cities.

Replying to the three-day discussion on agriculture and rural development, the Chief Minister announced the constitution of a high-level committee (of which he would be the Chairman) comprising Ministers, top officials and experts to oversee the development of rural areas of the State. “We also seek the Opposition’s cooperation in this endeavour; let us rise above our political affiliations in the interests of serving the people.”

Mr. Yeddyurappa said the State Government would make optimum use of NREGA, a Central Government scheme for the benefit of the rural population.

In the current year, the State Government planned to spend about Rs. 2,000 crore under NREGA compared to Rs. 442 crore last year. “I accept that we are way behind Andhra Pradesh in making use of NREGA. The plan now is to derive the maximum benefit.”

To ensure better accountability and transparency in the functioning of the bureaucracy, he said that the Karnataka Civil Service and Rules will be amended and all government personnel should be at their work places on time and should also remain in the headquarters.

Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of police in the districts would be held responsible for any communal incidents. Mr. Yeddyurappa said the State Government would request the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to help the Government to finalise a programme to serve the rural population. The former President had sent across a 20-page note to the State Government which could be considered for implementation.

The Chief Minister said a special rural roads development plan would be implemented this year, and nearly 10,000 km of rural roads would be upgraded over the next two years. The Government had also evolved a plan to provide rural housing and had earmarked Rs. 100 crore for the programme.

The other important announcements of the Chief Minister included extension of RUDSETI (Rural Development and Self-Employment Training Institute) schemes; a new project called “Kalampura” aimed at development of model villages in 200 hoblis; facilitating purchase of land up to five acres by people for setting up agri-based industries in rural areas; grant of Rs. 10,000 to girl students who pursue nursing course in colleges outside Bangalore; and development of one park and one tank in each village of the State over the next three years; and adequate encouragement to organic farming.