Towards Convergence of rural development initiatives – Model Village Scheme (Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana).
Energy access has been identified as an integral component in rural development all over the world. Especially for developing countries this translates into a great opportunity to tackle issues of poverty and climate change simultaneously using decentralized renewable energy (DRE) technologies. These technologies have already proved their mettle in terms of providing basic facilities of lighting, mobile charging and advanced livelihood opportunities. So the inclusion of these technologies becomes inevitable while devising various schemes in rural development. Unfortunately such a holistic design thinking was absent in many of our earlier schemes and policies where a clear role of DRE technologies were not recognized. SELCO Foundation has been advocating for an integrated approach in these schemes starting with National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in Karnataka with regular interactions and close engagement with the Karnataka State Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (KSRLPS ). A large number of similar programmes were observed to have potential for an integrated approach where energy interventions could play a vital role. Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) popularly known as ‘MP’s Model Village Scheme’ is a new initiative by the Central Government that leverages on the capacity of the Member of the Parliament to transform villages into Adarsh Grams (model villages) of holistic development in on social, human, economic and personal fronts. The scheme envisages a participatory development model that can bring together the village community, government organizations and private partners. It is worth mentioning that the scheme has emphasized the use of renewable energy technologies especially solar wherever it is possible.
Having pioneered the concept of model solar villages in Karnataka, SELCO is engaging with the scheme in order to integrate energy related inputs in health, education, livelihoods and skill development. In addition to this the idea is to bring in the aspects of safe drinking water and low cost infrastructure facilities that go beyond energy interventions. In a way we approach this scheme as a possible opportunity for the government to create a “hub for convergence” of various schemes with coordinated action and optimal utilization of funds. We have been closely following the processes under the scheme both from the perspective of policy and that of actual implementation. We believe that there is ample scope in adopting a cross sectoral approach in the field of development as there is a multiplicity of schemes in the existing scenario and most of them have not produced desired results. In the electricity sector, even after decades of rural electrification initiatives, close to 300 million people are still lacking access. This has a direct link to poverty with low productivity, lack of access to decent health and education activities etc. With the concepts like developing Adarsh Grams (model villages), we believe that government is looking to move towards a more holistic approach taking into consideration possible opportunities for convergence of various schemes (at ministry and department level) for effective implementation.