The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved a Rs 4,800 crore allocation for the 'Vibrant Villages Programme' (VVP), a centrally-sponsored scheme, to ensure the comprehensive development of villages along the northern border areas.
The financial allocation for 2022-23 to 2025-26 was approved at a meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and will include Rs 2,500 crore for the development of roads infrastructure, Union I&B Minister Anurag Thakur told reporters.
VVP was announced by the Central government last year.
The scheme, he said, will provide funds for the development of essential infrastructure and the creation of livelihood opportunities in 19 districts and 46 border blocks in four states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Ladakh along the northern land border of the country.
Thakur said the comprehensive development of villages along the northern border will improve the quality of life of people living there and help in encouraging them to stay in their native locations in these areas, thereby reversing the out-migration and adding to improved security of the border.
Asked whether the decision is linked with strengthening the security in border villages with China, the minister made it clear that those areas where development had not reached and the people of such areas had to migrate out, an opportunity has been provided to them to ensure they get employment and self-employment opportunities as the development will reach their villages on the same lines as that in other villages.
"The Prime Minister has given priority to the development of villages, especially on the border areas and whatever steps are required for national security the Modi government has taken. But, the Prime Minister has ensured that equal opportunities are provided to those border areas where development had not reached so far. PM Modi has thought about this which no one had ever thought till now.Advertisement
"There is so much beauty and opportunities at the border, but the lack of opportunities and development on the border areas has forced people to migrate from there. People who were forced to migrate now have opportunities to reach out to border villages and see the beauty of villages in India," he said.
All schemes of the government should also reach the remotest villages of the border areas to ensure that border villages turn vibrant, the minister said.Advertisement
"You can see this linking it with national security or the development of these villages, there can be different perspectives, but these villages will become developed and it is also important from the security perspective.
"We have taken several steps to ensure India's security. Where India was an importer of defence equipment, now it is doing exports under Make in India in the defence sector," Thakur said.Advertisement
India's strength is growing and we are taking steps to ensure that India becomes secure, he said, adding that here we are talking about ensuring the development of villages by providing them basic amenities and making them secure.
Thakur said the cabinet also approved the constitution of a high-powered committee on VVP with specific terms of reference.
This will help in achieving inclusive growth and retaining the population in the border areas, the minister said. In the first phase, 663 villages will be taken up in the programme.
"The Vibrant Villages Programme has been formulated as a centrally-sponsored scheme and will have both components of central sector schemes with 100 percent direct funding as well as central sponsored schemes in ten sectors like economic growth, livelihood generation, road connectivity, energy, development of cooperative sectors for 24X7 electricity and water, besides promotion of tourism of culture," Thakur said.
He said existing schemes of various ministries and departments of the government will be covered under VVP and their outcomes will be defined and monitored on a constant basis. However, there will not be an overlap with the Border Area Development Programme, he said.
The villages will be developed as growth centres on the basis of the 'hub and spoke model' through the promotion of entrepreneurship and empowerment of youth and women through skill development programmes, Thakur said.
The scheme aids to identify and develop the economic drivers based on local natural human and other resources of villages on the northern border and will look at the traditional knowledge, heritage and development of sustainable eco agri-businesses on the concept of one village, one product, he said.
This will be done through the involvement of community cooperative self-help groups and non-government organisations and agriculture societies, he added.
The vibrant village action plans will be created by the district administration with the help of gram panchayats. A 100 per cent saturation of central and state schemes will be ensured.
Key outcomes that have been attempted are connectivity with the all-weather road, drinking water, 24x7 electricity with solar and wind energy to be given focused attention, mobile and internet connectivity, a statement said, adding that tourist centres, multi-purpose centres and health and wellness centres will also be set up.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)