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Fact Checking Government claims about the Rurban Mission

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The BJP government published an infographic on the 48-months portal that makes four claims regarding the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM). This article is a fact check of these claims.

The BJP government published an infographic on the 48-months portal that makes four claims regarding the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM). This article is a fact check of these claims. 

What is the Rurban mission and is this a new scheme?
A response provided by the government in the Lok Sabha states the aims & objectives of the SPMRM. It states that ‘the Government proposes to develop rural clusters in the country under Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM). The Mission aims at development of 300 clusters in all States and UTs by provisioning of economic activities, developing skills & local entrepreneurship and providing infrastructure amenities. The Rurban Mission will thus develop a cluster of smart Villages. Under the SPMRM, the State Governments shall identify existing Centrally Sponsored, Central Sector or State Government schemes relevant for the development of the cluster and converge their implementation in an integrated and time bound manner’.

Another answer of the government in the Lok Sabha mentions that the Scheme has been approved in September, 2015 and an outlay of Rs. 5142.08 crore has been provided for the scheme for the period 2015-16 to 2019-20. About fourteen (14) components have been suggested as desirable for inclusion in the development of Rurban Cluster. The funding support will be up to 30% of the estimated investment for each Rurban cluster, given as Critical Gap Funding (CGF), while the remaining 70% of the funds are to be mobilized by the States through convergence with synergic State and Central programmes as well as private investment and institutional funding.

It has to be noted that the scheme is not entirely new. The SPMRM is a replacement of the Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) scheme that was implemented during the UPA’s tenure. Incidentally, the PURA scheme was first announced by the NDA-I government in August 2003. The broad objective of the PURA scheme was ‘holistic and accelerated development of compact areas around a potential growth centre in a Gram Panchayat (or a group of Gram Panchayats) through Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework for providing livelihood opportunities and urban amenities to improve the quality of life in rural areas’

The PURA scheme was implemented on a pilot basis in seven clusters for a period of three years from 2004-05 to 2006-07. Based on the study by the NIRD, Hyderabad and the recommendations of the Working Group on PURA, the scheme was restructured and approved in 2010 for implementation on a pilot basis under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) framework. Nine (9) projects were approved under the PPP framework.

How many clusters have been identified?
The first claim is that 267 clusters have been identified for development under the Rurban mission.  In an answer provided in the Lok Sabha in July 2017, it is mentioned that the ‘Ministry has allocated 300 Clusters, 100 clusters each in 3 phases in 29 States and 6 Union Territories. Out of 300 Clusters, 196 Clusters have been approved under Phase-I and Phase-II till date. Ministry has also allocated 100 clusters recently under Phase III, and the respective States are identifying clusters to be developed.

In another answer provided in the Lok Sabha in March 2018, it is stated that, ‘till date, of the mandated 300 clusters, 267 clusters have been identified and approved across the country.”

Claim: 267 clusters are identified under the Rurban mission

Fact: Of the mandated 300 clusters, 267 clusters have been identified and approved across the country. Hence, the claim is TRUE.

Are Thematic clusters being identified?
The second claim is that Agro based and thematic clusters for skilled manpower and economic opportunities are being identified.  According to an answer provided in the Lok Sabha, ‘Rs. 19,961.81 crores of investment have been estimated in the first 197 Integrated Cluster Action Plans (ICAPs). Of the total investment proposed, nearly 78% is targeted towards saturation of Economic and Basic Amenities. Various Thematic Areas have been identified for saturation of Economic Amenities, such as Agri Services and Processing, followed by Skill development to promote Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and Tourism.’ The details of the specific clusters based on various economic themes is available on the SPMRM website.

Claim: Agro based and thematic clusters for skilled manpower and economic opportunities are being identified

Fact: As per the government’s response in the Lok Sabha, thematic Areas have been identified for saturation of Economic Amenities, such as Agri Services and Processing, followed by Skill development to promote Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and Tourism. The SPMRM website also has details of these thematic clusters. Hence, the claim is TRUE.

How many cluster action plans have been developed?
The third claim is that 153 integrated cluster action plans (ICAPs) for 29 states and 1 UT have been developed. As per the answer provided in the Lok Sabha in March 2018, through intense engagements with the States, 197 Integrated Cluster Action Plans (ICAPs), which are the blue prints of investment for each cluster, have been approved for 29 States and 2 UTs.’

Claim: 153 integrated cluster action plans (ICAPs) for 29 states and 1 UT have been developed.

Fact: 197 Integrated Cluster Action Plans (ICAPs), which are the blue prints of investment for each cluster, have been approved for 29 States and 2 UTs as of March 2018. Hence, the claim is TRUE.

What about Rurban clusters being ODF?
The last claim is that 300 Rurban clusters are ODF and are about green growth. The annual report of the Ministry of Rural Development (2016-17) states that,  ‘the mission outcome as per the current design will see Rs. 30,000 crores of investment in 300 clusters benefitting more than 3000 gram panchayats, across the country, saturating them with all basic, social and digital amenities. At the end if the mission period, the country will have 300 Rurban clusters which will be ODF, green, agro based and thematic clusters with skilled manpower and access to economic opportunities.’

Claim: 300 Rurban clusters are ODF and are about green growth

Fact: As per the mission objectives and at the end of the mission period, the country will have 300 Rurban clusters which will be ODF, green, agro based and thematic clusters. While the objectives are true, the claim talks about a future goal and hence it remains UNVERIFIED.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here

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