All is not green yet in India’s countryside, though some of the ruling coalition’s rural development schemes, mainly the flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, or NREGS, have fared well.
Official data also show the government has done well in rural housing and telephony, both part of Bharat Nirman, a four-year, Rs1.76 trillion rural infrastructure development programme launched in 2005 with 31 March 2009 as the deadline for completion of projects.
In housing, the government has already met the target of building six million rural homes, ahead of schedule, and in rural telephony, it has almost met the targets, Planning Commission data show.
What may turn against the UPA in the elections due before May could be its performance in the rural schemes on roads, irrigation, electricity and drinking water facilities.
“Even NREGS is experiencing a lot of leakages. I would not give UPA more than four out of 10 in its rural development initiative,” said S.L. Rao, chairman, Institute for Social and Economic Change.
Of the Centre’s rural schemes, only Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan or SSA and NREGS have done well, he added. SSA is a universal education programme for elementary education.
He added that the area of concern now is creating awareness about the programme as also capacity building of the implementing agencies.
Also one of the biggest announcements in the 2008-09 Union Budget was a farm loan waiver programme for 43 million farmers. Mint’s teams visited several villages across the country in June and July to find out the real beneficiaries and it concluded that wilful defaulters benefited more.