15th August, 2003
Prime Minister's Office  


On the occasion of the 56th anniversary of India’s Independence, Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has announced several new initiatives aimed at speedier eradication of poverty, generation of large-scale employment and self-employment opportunities and acceleration of India’s all-round development. Here is the list of initiatives.

Rural Development

1: Respected Rashtrapatiji has placed an important thought before the Nation for bridging the rural-urban divide and achieving balanced socio-economic development. It is called PURA – Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas. It involves identification of rural clusters with growth potential and creating four types of connectivities for them – (i) road, transportation and power connectivity; (ii) electronic connectivity in the form of reliable telecom, Internet and IT services; (iii) knowledge connectivity in the form of good educational and training institutions; and (iv) market connectivity that would enable kisans and others to get the best prices for their produce. The Government has decided to implement the PURA strategy in 5,000 rural clusters across the country in the next five years. Priority will be given to North-Eastern States, other Special Category States, and backward areas identified by the Planning Commission and other agencies. The Prime Minister’s Office will prepare the contours of the PURA strategy in consultation with the concerned ministries and State Governments. Its Implementation will begin through commencement of a fully Centrally funded rural connectivity programme in the KBK (Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput) districts of Orissa in November.

2: The Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP) of the newly created Ministry of Agro & Rural Industries, which is being implemented by the Khadi & Village Industries Commission, has created 18 lakh employment opportunities in the past five years. Taking note of this successful experience, the Government has decided to make more funds available to REGP. Over 20 lakh new employment opportunities will be created in this sector in the next four years. A new group insurance scheme for workers in the Khadi sector will be launched.

Agriculture Development

3: Crop diversification has become an imperative of India’s agri-economy. To address this need, and to give further impetus to the encouraging growth in cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, etc., a National Horticulture Mission will be launched. Its main target will be doubling India’s horticulture production by 2010.

4: The Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with Prasar Bharati and other institutions, will launch dedicated Krishi Darshan TV channels and Krishi Vani radio channels. This will be done in a phased manner beginning from Gandhi Jayanti.

5: Nearly 300 mid-size irrigation schemes in the country are at various stages of non-completion. The Centre will help State Governments to complete them over the next 3-4 years.

6: Two National Action Plansfor the development of Bio-fuels and Bamboo – will be launched. Development of wasteland will be an integral part of these missions. In addition to achieving significant import substitution (in the case of Bio-fuels) and export earnings (in the case of Bamboo products), both will also help enhance farmers’ incomes. The Prime Minister has appealed to the people, and urged all government offices and PSUs, to buy more products from the KVIC sector, as this will promote creation of large-scale employment opportunities in rural areas.

Infrastructure Development

7: The Task Force for Linking of Rivers has identified two projects whose implementation will begin before the end of this year. These are (a) To link Ken and Betua rivers in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh; and (b) To link Parvati, Kalisindh and Chambal rivers in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

8: Implementation of the Golden Quadrilateral part of the National Highways Development Project is progressing rapidly. Work on the North-South and East-West corridors of NHDP has also begun with the commencement of construction of a four-lane highway in Srinagar. Before the end of this year, work on these corridors will also start at Kanyakumari, Silchar and Porbandar. Four-laning and upgradation of additional 10,000 km of highways, outside the ambit of NHDP, will begin before March 2004. Under this, all State capitals, which are away from NHDP, will be linked to NHDP by four-lane highways. This will especially benefit North-Eastern States.

9: Modernisation and expansion of Delhi and Mumbai airports through Public Private partnerships will be taken up within the next six months. All bottlenecks in the construction of the greenfield Bangalore airport project, pending for long, have been cleared and implementation can now commence immediately.

10: After the launch of ambitious projects for the development of highways, rural roads (through the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana), railways (through the National Rail Vikas Yojana) and airports, the Government has decided to launch an equally ambitious "Sagar Mala" project for rapid capacity expansion and modernization of ports along India’s west and east coasts. Development of Inland Navigation will also be a part of this project. As a first step, integrated development of Nhava Sheva and Kochi ports, at a cost of Rs.7500 crore, will begin by March 2004.

11: A Technology Mission for Railway Safety will be set up to comprehensively address safety-related issues in Indian Railways. This will be done in collaboration with the Department of Science & Technology, IIT Kanpur and a consortium of private sector companies.

To obtain electric power at reduced costs, a 1,000-MW captive thermal power plant will be set up at Nabinagar in Bihar by Rail Bijlee Company, a joint venture between Indian Railways and NTPC, at a cost of about Rs. 4,000 crore. The electricity produced by this plant will be used by Indian Railways for electric traction.

12: The Ministry of Power and the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources will jointly implement a programme to provide electricity to one lakh uncovered villages and one crore households over the next two years through the Rural Electricity Supply Technology Mission.

Social Justice and Social Security

13: Two new Commissions – for the rehabilitation and development of Disabled People and Nomadic Tribes – will be set up. 100 Social Justice Centres will be established for the welfare and empowerment of disabled and weaker sections of society.

14: The Ministry of Tribal Affairs will launch new developmental and welfare initiatives for the Scheduled Tribes. These will include construction of hostels for boys and girls in all districts, which have a significant tribal population; measures to promote tribal culture; steps to honour legendary tribal leaders; construction of an Adivasi Bhavan in New Delhi; etc.

15: New social security schemes will be unveiled for destitute children; poor families that have women as the sole breadwinner; and families that suffer untimely death of the breadwinner.

Small Scale Industries

16: The Government will soon announce a new financial package for revitalization of Small Scale Industries through modernization, technological upgradation, market development, and international promotion. The package will also involve debt restructuring of SSI units.

Slum Rehabilitation and Urban Renewal

17: India is rapidly urbanizing. However, the growth of slums and gross inadequacy of basic amenities have severely affected the quality of life for a majority of our urban population. In consultation with State Governments, a new policy for slum rehabilitation and urban infrastructure development will be formulated. To demonstrate the Government’s resolve to show visible change in this regard, a plan will be drawn up, together with the State Government, for making Mumbai slum-free in the next ten years. In the first phase, over 100,000 slum-dwelling families will be rehabilitated in good housing complexes over the next 2-3 years.

Tourism & Culture

18: A Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund will be created to speedily improve, through a strategy of Public-Private Partnership, roads, water and power supply, sanitation, sewerage, solid waste management, and overall ambience in all the high-potential tourist destinations across the country. The highly successful "Incredible India" campaign launched by the Ministry of Tourism will be further broadened and intensified in key markets.

19: With the successful commencement of the National Mission for Manuscripts, which was announced on Independence Day last year, the Ministry of Culture will launch three more missions – a National Mission for Preservation of Monuments; a National Mission for Preservation of Antiquities; and a National Mission for Preservation of Intangible Heritage. These four missions will result in a major initiative for preservation of our precious national heritage.

Education, Science & Technology

20: Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have earned an international reputation as centers of excellence in technology education. There is a growing demand among meritorious students for admission into IITs. Hence, five new IITs will be set up by upgrading promising academic institutions. Participation of the private sector and contributions from the alumni of IITs and other institutions will be sought for this purpose. Two new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) will be set up in Jabalpur and Kanchipuram.