Punjab’s Smart Village Campaign gets further boost, after govt took this decision

Punjab government’s Smart Village Campaign (SVC) got a fillip on Thursday with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh directing the Finance Department to immediately release Rs. 383 crore for the same.

Responding to a request from the Rural Development and Panchayats Department, the Chief Minister asked the department to ensure timely implementation of the scheme in all the 22 districts across the state to facilitate development and upgradation of the infrastructure and facilities in the rural areas.

It may be recalled that the Council of Ministers, headed by Captain Amarinder, had given the go-ahead to the Smart Village Campaign on January 29, thus paving the way for holistic development of the villages.

It is aimed at improving the conditions in the rural areas by converging and supplementing the ongoing Governmental Schemes for building infrastructure and providing basic amenities.

Such convergence would be the key feature of the scheme, and funds from different sources like RDF, 14th Finance Commission, MGNREGA, SBM, NRDWP, etc shall be utilised for implementing the scheme. If there is any other scheme under which the proposed work can be undertaken, then the funds of that scheme would also be utilised.

In case any work can be done under MGNREGA, it would be mandatorily converged with this scheme. Where funds of any scheme like 14th Finance Commission, MGNREGA etc. are being utilised, compliance of guidelines of that Scheme would be ensured by the Deputy Commissioner and the Executive Agency.

The campaign is based on the premise that each village would move upwards by achieving various goals in different fields like infrastructure, health, education, environment etc.

The works to be undertaken under SVC have been divided into two categories: essential and desirable. Under the scheme, the Deputy Commissioner shall get proposals from Block Development and Panchayats Officer as well as various sectoral departments on the required works.

Individual works up to Rs. 25 lakhs would be considered and approved by a committee comprising Deputy Commissioner and Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) as its Chairman and Member Secretary respectively. The other members of the committee are District Development and Panchayat Officer, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Zila Parishad and Executive Engineer (Panchayati Raj).

In case of individual works costing more than Rs.25 lakhs, approval would be given by a state level committee comprising Joint Development Commissioner and Superintending Engineer (PRC) SAS Nagar as its Chairman and Member Secretary respectively. The other Members of the committee are Director Rural Development and Panchayats, Chief Engineer (Panchayati Raj) and Deputy Controller (F&A).

DCs would be competent to select and decide the Executive Agency, which may be the Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti, Zila Parishad or any sectoral administrative department of the State Government. DCs would release funds to the Executive Agency in two equal installments. The second installment would be released by Deputy Commissioner to the Executive Agency when Utilization Certificate of the first installment is submitted.

With regard to benchmarking of villages, all the villages would be graded/ranked on the basis of a survey, detailed guidelines for which would be subsequently notified by the Rural Development & Panchayats Department. Each district would benchmark all villages after a survey to assess the existing level of facilities of all villages within the district.

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