Chandigarh, June 12- Union Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Mr Birender Singh today made it clear that the Central Government would not acquire even an inch of land on behalf of private sector, but would acquire land for infrastructural development like roads, water works, railways and defence installations. The Minister, who was addressing a press conference here today on the completion of the first year of the present Central Government, said that when 18 states, including the Congress ruled States were of the view that land could not be acquired for development projects without amendment, the Bill was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee.
He said that the government would make any amendment in the Land Acquisition Bill which would be in favour of the farming community. The Bill was discussed by the Lok Sabha, but could not be discussed by Rajya Sabha, he added. In reply to another question concerning implementation of MGNREGA, he said that there was no question of changing its name. As compared to the previous budget allocation which was never more than Rs 34,000 crore, the present government has increased it to Rs 40,000 crore.While Rs 35,000 crore were allocated in Union Budget, the Finance Minister also announced to give Rs 5,000 crore more. He said that there was budgetary ratio of 60:40 between labour and assets, which have been maintained thus denying the allegation that the Central Government would change it to 51:49.
He said that for the skill development of those working under MGNREGA, the government has for the first time implemented a new scheme known as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana and National Rural Livelihood Mission. He said that the pace of construction of roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana has been accelerated by the present government from earlier 67 kms per day to 101 kms per day. He said that 36,000 km long roads have been constructed during one year. While referring to the construction of houses under Indira Awas Yojana, he said that Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi has set a target to provide houses to all by 2022. Therefore, there was a need to construct five crore houses in urban as well as rural areas. These included 2.95 lakh houses in rural areas. He said that now a target has been fixed to construct 50 lakh houses per year.
He said that earlier, only 15 lakh to 20 lakh houses used to be constructed under Indira Awas Yojana. Also, it was felt that the house constructed earlier had cost Rs 70,000 each and were expected to last far about 10 years, but now the government would ensure that the houses last for at least 40 years. Referring to the steps taken for skill development of the youth, he said that 12 lakh youth would be imparted training in three years. The government would bear entire expenditure of their training as well as board and lodging. He said that 70 per cent of the trainees would have assured employment. Their salary gap, if any, would be met with. He appreciated that some business houses have come forward to supplement the efforts of the government. In reply to a question concerning the villages adopted by Members of Parliament, he said that so far 679 MPs from both Houses have given their consent and now project reports would be finalized by June 30 and development works would commence from July. He said that the target upto 2016 was to let each MP adopt one village so as to make it a model village, but the target would be further enhanced and in next five years, each MP would adopt three villages. This scheme has got encouraging response as six States have also introduced a similar scheme for Members of Legislative Assembly. In reply to a question concerning drinking water and sanitation schemes, he said that there were 11 crore houses where either the toilets have been constructed or to be constructed. While toilets have been constructed in five crore houses, these are yet to be constructed in six crore houses by 2019. He said that the issue of open defecation could be resolved by changing the mindset of the people and not only by constructing toilets. Referring to the issue of drinking water in rural areas, he said that a target has been fixed to cover 90 per cent of the population to supply piped water by 2022. He expressed concern that only 15 per cent of the population was being provided surface water and 85 per cent was getting underground water. This situation is to be reversed for which a massive plan is being formulated.
He said that Prime Minster Mr Narendra Modi had desired that Rs 2,600 crore be given to different states in one go for drinking water supply. Therefore, this amount has been given to enable the States to achieve their targets of supply of drinking water. He said that the biggest achievement of the present Central Government was the financial unification which has been got initiated by Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi. As compared to the existing 3.5 crore bank accounts, their number has been increased to 15 crore thus enabling even the poor people to avail the benefit of various schemes through banks. Earlier, the Union Minister released a coffee table book entitled as Changing Rural Lives through Watershed Development-Integrated Watershed Management Programme. A film on the achievements made during one year by various departments under the Ministries headed by Mr Birender Singh was also screened. Those present on the occasion included senior officers of Ministries of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation and senior officers of Haryana Government.