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Need for economic uplift of over 220 million people

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His vision: Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam addressing a special consultation meeting at Gandhigram Rural University on Friday. —
His vision: Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam addressing a special consultation meeting at Gandhigram Rural University on Friday. —

K. Raju

GANDHIGRAM: Employment generation should be the central activity of Providing Urban Facilities in Rural Areas (PURA) programme.

All other activities such as habitat, healthcare, education, physical and electronic connectivity and marketing should revolve round it for sustainable economic and social development in villages, according to former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

He was addressing a special consultation meeting on PURA as a model of sustainable rural development held at Gandhigram Rural University here on Friday.

“There is a need for economic uplift of over 220 million people.

Agriculture has been growing at the rate of 1.6 per cent. If we have to uplift the poor and provide them quality life, the agriculture sector should grow at least by four per cent a year,” Mr. Kalam said.

Rural sector development is very important. PURA would provide physical connectivity, electronic connectivity and knowledge connectivity, leading to economic connectivity.

The country should have 7,000 PURAs encompassing over 600,000 villages.

The Government would be responsible for providing land and making funds for regional development schemes.

“Educational institutions can also plan and implement it and venture capitalists fund PURA components,” he added.

Ministry plan

The Rural Development Ministry plans to create two PURA clusters in each of 600 districts that may attract public-private participation for providing value added services.

“Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala have already taken it up as Government initiative.

It is a private initiative in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh,” Mr. Kalam said.

In 2012, PURA would provide dwelling units to all villagers with clean drinking water and sanitation facilities. People in PURA complex would get quality healthcare.

Per capita income of PURA clusters should increase three times and the people living below-the-poverty line should come down to zero in six years.

A dynamic, empowered PURA management board structure is vital to achieve this.

It has to be evolved with active participation of State Governments, district authorities, educational institutions and industries.

It should be managed as a viable and sustainable business proposition through local entrepreneurship, Mr. Kalam said.

He also wanted to prepare a management structure for its implementation.

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