A programme that allows parliamentarians to develop villages has tasted limited success so far, but holds the key for many lawmakers as an alternative to the MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) scheme, which has been stalled for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to officials in the know.
The Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna (SAGY) was launched in 2014 to develop model villages with various social, economic and environmental amenities. The MPs would pick a village in their parliamentary area every year to turn it into a model village.
The scheme has, so far, seen a lukewarm response. The official data shows 2,111 gram panchayats have so far been identified under this programme and of that, 1,618 have prepared their development plans. A total of 79,316 activities have been planned for these villages, of which 49,756 have been completed.
The official data also shows that phase 2 of the SGSY has seen an even weaker response than the first. In all states except Haryana and Tripura, the second phase saw fewer villages being adopted.
Rural development secretary NN Sinha said, “This is not a flop programme but it will take some time to get the results. It requires a lot of focus and long-term goals of all stakeholders, especially the panchayats to make this programme a success, especially in those places that are far behind in terms of progress and amenities.”
While the MPLAD scheme brings additional funds of ₹1 crore every year to an MP and he or she is free to spend on a public project anywhere in the constituency, the SGAY doesn’t come with any extra money. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly decided that no extra money would be given and the projects or works would be done from existing government programmes,” said another senior official.
The non-availability of additional funds, Sinha argues, is not a dampener but gives a level playing field for other villages. “Other panchayats too can emulate the projects in the model scheme and avail them in their villages.”
A Rajya Sabha MP, who didn’t wish to be identified, said, “While the MPLAD had a much wider dimension, the SGAY assumes importance in the post-Covid situation when rural India would require more amenities and development.”
Under the programme, a variety of schemes can be sanctioned for a model village. “From building roads, schools to skill development programmes, installing hand pumps or even environmental programmes can be adopted,” said the senior official cited above.
Union government officials maintained that while the MPs act as a catalyst in this scheme, the programme’s improvement essentially depends on panchayat leaders.