Chandigarh: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi along with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday launched the second phase of Smart Village campaign in the state with the virtual launch of a Rs 2,775 crore campaign to power the state's complete rural transformation.
While Rahul Gandhi launched the campaign from New Delhi, Amarinder Singh and a host of Punjab ministers, officials and sarpanchs joined in from 1,500 digital locations, paving the way for the execution of 48,910 works across the state.
Expressing happiness on Rahul Gandhi being a part of the occasion, the Chief Minister said the scheme would lead to the creation of enormous rural infrastructure to raise the living standards and quality of life by capitalising on technological advances, as part of his government's Rural Transformation Strategy.
He assured of adequate allocation for the schemes to be undertaken under the second phase, which has been kickstarted on the successful culmination of Phase I, which was launched in 2019 for the execution of 19,132 works at a cost of Rs 835 crore.
Underlining the importance of villages to keep the nation's foundations strong, Rahul Gandhi said any weakening of the rural structure would impede the nation's progress.
He stressed on the need to strengthen these foundations for a better India, pointing out that protecting the villages and the people living there would help protect the cities and the country.
The former Congress President also appreciated the work being done by the Amarinder Singh-led government to improve the rural infrastructure.
The money being spent in villages is the sweat and blood of the people of the state, and every penny of this money should reach the beneficiaries without corruption obstructing the process, he said.
The Congress, said Rahul Gandhi, believed in working at the grassroots and the Congress governments start programmes only after taking the views of the panchayats into account.
Since the schemes under the Smart Village Campaign have been envisaged after deliberations at the ground level, they will deliver the desired results, he said.
Amarinder Singh said that Phase I of the campaign had focused on core areas like renovation of ponds, street lights, parks, gymnasiums, community halls, drinking water supply etc., thus making villages in Punjab self-sustaining by providing enabling environments.
For the second phase, adequate funds have already been transferred to all the 13,264 gram panchayats, the Chief Minister said, adding that his government intends to give assistance to those house-owners who are living in houses having temporary roofs.
The intention is "Har Ghar Pakki Chhat", i.e., to provide the rural poor with better housing facility. While doing so, focus shall be on 'inclusive' growth, i.e., to include households such as women-headed households, persons with disabilities, critically ill persons, families of martyrs, scheduled castes etc., he said.
In addition, 750 stadia have been taken up for development in the rural areas. For this, a target of minimum of five stadia per block has been allotted.