Thalikulam (Kerala): Slamming former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's concept of PURA
(Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) as a failure, Rural
Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Friday launched the
restructured PURA scheme that combines rural infrastructure
development with economic regeneration in Private Public
Partnership (PPP) mode and seeks to harness the efficiencies of
the private sector.
Ramesh said that while the PURA launched by Kalam has failed, the
reworked PURA will succeed. "Kalam's PURA project failed. This
will succeed," the minister said.
He said the restructured PURA project has "nothing to do" with
"The focus is on water supply, sanitation, physical infrastructure
as opposed to talking about knowledge connectivity," Ramesh said.
The PURA envisioned by Kalam laid emphasis on physical, electronic
and knowledge connectivity to stem the rural-urban divide and
promote balanced development.
Incidentally, the dias from which Ramesh was speaking had a huge
poster on PURA with a picture of Kalam.
Ramesh said that various government programmes would be integrated
under the reworked PURA for the benefit of panchayats. "In three
years, the results will be before people."
Giving reasons for the launch of the reworked project from a
panchayat in Kerala, the minister said the Thalikulam panchayat in
Thrissur district was "neither a rural area nor completely urban."
"In Kerala, there are 461 such 'trishankus' (heavily expanded
rural areas). Villages are becoming bigger and bigger. We are
focusing on those villages that have become towns in the last 10
years," he said and added that the number of "trishanku" towns had
gone up to 3,600 in the country.
The minister, who also launched a reworked PURA project at
Thirurangadi panchayat in Malappuram district, said the project
will be launched at seven other places across Rajasthan,
Uttarakhand, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in about a
Incidentally, the Congress is in power in four of the six states
where the reworked PURA will be launched.
The minister later told media persons that while 500 PURA projects
would be launched in the 12th plan, the country needed a total of
3,500 such projects.
Ramesh said his ministry has sought Rs.16,500 crore from the
Planning Commission for PURA projects in the 12th plan. He added
PURA will be given a new name.
He said funding for projects under PURA will come from capital
grants under the scheme, government programmes and private
PURA was launched by the rural development ministry from 2004-05
to 2006-07 on a pilot basis. It has been re-configured after
extensive consultation and research process with state
governments, private sector and multi-lateral development
organisations like Asian Development Bank.
Ministry officials said that the reworked PURA was the first-ever
attempt at delivering infrastructure and amenities through PPP in
the rural areas.
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