Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission

Large parts of rural areas in the country are not stand-alone settlements but part of a cluster of settlements, which are relatively proximate to each other. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive locational and competitive advantages. These clusters once developed can then be classified as ‘Rurban’.

Hence taking cognizance of this, Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) was launched by Government of India in 2016 to deliver integrated project based infrastructure in the rural areas, which will also include development of economic activities and skill development. The preferred mode of delivery is through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) while using various scheme funds for financing.

  • With an outlay of Rs. 5142.08 crore, the Rurban Mission will develop clusters of smart villages which have a potential for holistic growth. These clusters will be developed by encouraging economic activities, local entrepreneurship and creation of infrastructure.
  • By 2019-20, the government will set up 300 such clusters across the nation. The funding will be through different schemes of the Government converged into the cluster.
  • Fourteen components have been suggested as desirable for a cluster to ensure optimum development: skill development training linked to economic activities, Agro Processing or Agri Services/Storage and Warehousing, Digital Literacy, Sanitation, etc.
  • To select the clusters, the Ministry of Rural Development is using a scientific method, which involves an objective analysis of demography, economy, tourism and pilgrimage significance and transportation corridor impact. This will be done at the District, Sub-District and Village levels.
  • Integrated Cluster Action Plans will be prepared by the States for Rurban Clusters. These will be detailed plan documents that will lay out the strategy for the cluster, desired results for the cluster under the mission, along with the converged resources under Central sector, schemes sponsored by Centre and State Sector, and the Critical Gap Funding (CGF) needed for the cluster.
  • Along with CGF, major steps have been taken to ensure the success of the programme with proper budget provisions to support the State Government towards project development, capacity building and other institutional arrangements at the state level.
  • The programme will provide an additional funding support of up to 30 per cent of the project cost per cluster as CGF as Central Share so as to enable development of Rurban clusters.
  • For smooth implementation of the Mission, both State and Centre will make institutional arrangements. An Innovation budget towards facilitating research, development and capacity building has also been allotted.
  • The clusters will have geographically proximity to Gram Panchayats with a population of about 25,000 to 50,000 in plain and coastal areas, and a population of 5,000 to 15,000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas.
  • A separate approach of selection will be at work to select clusters in Tribal and Non-Tribal Districts.
  • Though welcome in its conception, its implementation is wrought with contradictions.
  • Though role has been given to state governments to delineate the clusters, role of PRIs has not been demarcated.
  • Further poor implementation of the 73rd amendment act to achieve meaningful devolution of funds, functions and functionaries risks jeopardising any significant socio-economic growth of rural areas.
  • Multiplicity of schemes in this regard in the form of SAGY, BRGF etc. can lead to delayed decision making and confusion.
  • Poor agricultural performance in dwindling monsoon times need to be safeguarded and drought mitigation, smart cropping patterns and institutional support in the form of insurance are key for any scheme for rural development and this hasn’t been integrated with the SPMRM.

The Rurban mission in order to be successful has to look to supplement and augment capabilities of PRIs, improve congruencies with AMRUT for deciding on administering an ever growing rural-urban fringe and promote a low carbon growth pattern for villages through use of renewables to achieve a model sustainable growth paradigm for our villages.