Considering the increased road connectivity, expansion of highways, and the expanding scope of commercial activities beyond cities, and reaching rural regions, the Union government is actively developing a framework to facilitate development and economic growth in rural areas, as per a report by The Print.
According to a senior official, The Ministry of Panchayati Raj is working to finalise a 'Model Rural Transformation Act' by December this year.
This act, which does not require approval from Parliament, will provide a blueprint for state governments to establish their own acts for promoting rural development.
As per the terms of reference released by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in March 2022, the Act will establish a framework for states to effectively strategise, promote, and oversee land utilisation in gram panchayats to foster economic growth, sustainable development, and improving the overall quality of life.
“Under the Act, there will be provision for special spatial plans for gram panchayats. The Act when ready will be shared with the states for comment,” as per the report.
This initiative is a response to the advancements in road development, through National Highways (NH) and Expressways connecting into rural areas, which has resulted in accelerated infrastructure development in these regions.
“While there are provisions for planned development of urban areas, there are none for rural areas, due to which there is unplanned growth. So, just like urban areas, we have to prepare medium and long-term plans for the development of rural areas,” a second senior ministry official stated.
The official further pointed to the lack of regulations for village development.
“Many villages, especially those near highways, are already facing problems related to congestion etc., which are mainly urban problems, because of rampant commercial activities. These can only be addressed if proper plans are prepared for villages for the next 15-20 years,” said another official.
As India experiences significant urbanisation, characterised by increased investments and demand for cities, it is crucial to recognise the progress being made in country’s rural regions.
To ensure balanced rural development, these areas must receive deliberate attention in terms of spatial planning, as well as a focus on skill development.
Additionally, supporting gram panchayats in establishing specialised activity hubs can enable these areas to attract investments and create employment opportunities for the local population.
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