Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for ensuring that the COVID-19 pandemic is stopped from spreading to villages "by all means” and every person in rural areas is vaccinated, as he noted that the challenge before the country at present is bigger than last year. Appreciating the role of panchayats in the management of coronavirus, especially in creating awareness, Modi asked the local leadership to work towards "complete implementation of guidelines” that are being issued from time to time.
"I have this confidence that if someone is going to emerge victorious first in this fight against the coronavirus, it is going to be India's villages, the leadership of these villages….. The people of the villages will show the way to the country and the world,” the prime minister said. Modi was speaking at a virtual event to launch the distribution of e-property cards under the 'SWAMITVA' scheme on the National Panchayati Raj Day. Chief ministers of eight states and a large number of local body representatives were also connected to the event virtually.
Underlining that the pandemic was prevented from affecting rural areas last year, he exuded confidence that the success can be replicated as the local leadership now has experience as well as knowledge. Emphasising the need to get vaccinated, Modi said, "This time we have the shield of vaccine. We have to ensure that every person in the village is vaccinated and every precaution is taken.” He also stressed the need for precaution along with vaccination and said, "Right now, the mantra of the panchayats should be dawai bhi, kadai bhi” (medicine as well as strictness).
To help the poor during this period, the Centre has decided to provide them free ration for May and June, the prime minister noted, adding this will benefit over 80 crore people and cost the government Rs 26,000 crore. "It is our responsibility that in these difficult times, no family should go hungry,” Modi said.
He said the Centre is keeping villages at the centre of all its policies and initiatives. Our effort is that villages of modern India should be capable and self-reliant,” he said.
Talking about the SWAMITVA scheme, Modi said as many as 4.09 lakh property owners were being given their e-property cards, which also marked the rolling out of the SWAMITVA scheme for implementation across the country. Describing the importance of panchayats, Modi said that the Centre has allocated an unprecedented Rs 2.25 lakh crore to the panchayats The panchayats are getting new rights, they are being connected by fibre-net. Their role in Jal Jeevan Mission to provide drinking water by tap to every household is very critical, the prime minister said.
Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar attended the event along with chief ministers and ministers of various states. Modi also conferred the National Panchayat Awards 2021 under various categories. He transferred the award money, ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, as grants-in-aid, by clicking a button, the PMO said in a statement.
For the first time, the amount has been directly transferred to the bank account of the panchayats concerned in real-time, the government said. The Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas (SVAMITVA) scheme was launched by the prime minister on April 24, 2020, as a central scheme to promote a socio-economically empowered and self-reliant rural India.
The scheme has the potential to transform rural India using modern technical tools of mapping and surveying. It paves the way for using a property as a financial asset by villagers for availing loans and other financial benefits, a statement said. The scheme will cover around 6.62 lakh villages of the entire country between 2021 and 2025, it said.
The pilot phase of the scheme was implemented during 2020-2021 in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and select villages of Punjab and Rajasthan.
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