In a major initiative to boost infrastructure and facilities in rural areas across the state, the Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday approved the ‘Smart Village Campaign’ (SVC) for overall development of villages at a cost of Rs.384.40 crore.The decision was taken in the Cabinet meeting held here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh this morning.The Cabinet felt the need to enhance the quality of life and living standards of people residing in the villages, said an official spokesperson after the meeting, adding that the campaign was aimed at improving the conditions in the rural areas by converging and supplementing the ongoing Governmental Schemes for building infrastructure and providing essential amenities. The campaign is based on the premise that each village would move upwards by achieving various goals in different fields like infrastructure, health, education, environment etc.The works to be undertaken under SVC have been divided into two categories: essential and desirable. Under the scheme, the Deputy Commissioner shall get the proposals from Block Development and Panchayats Officer as well as various sectoral departments. Individual works up to Rs.25 lakhs would be considered and approved by the committee comprising Deputy Commissioner and Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) as its Chairman and Member Secretary respectively. The other Members of the committee would be District Development and Panchayat Officer, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Zila Parishad and Executive Engineer (Panchayati Raj).In case of individual works costing more than Rs.25 lakhs, approval would be accorded by the state level committee comprising Joint Development Commissioner and Superintending Engineer (PRC) SAS Nagar as its Chairman and Member Secretary respectively.
The other Members of the committee would be Director Rural Development and Panchayats, Chief Engineer (Panchayati Raj) and Deputy Controller (F&A).The convergence would be the key feature of the scheme and funds from different sources like RDF, 14th Finance Commission, MGNREGA, SBM, NRDWP, etc shall be utilized for the purpose of this scheme. Further, if there is any other scheme under which the proposed work can be undertaken, then the funds of that scheme would also be utilized. In case any work can be done from MGNREGA it would be mandatorily converged with it. Where funds of any scheme like 14th Finance Commission, MGNREGA etc. are being utilized, compliance of guidelines of that Scheme would be ensured by the Deputy Commissioner and the Executive Agency.DCs would be competent to select and decide the Executive Agency, which may be the Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti, Zila Parishad or any sectoral administrative department of the State Government. DCs would release funds to the Executive Agency in two equal installments. The second installment would be released by Deputy Commissioner to the Executive Agency when Utilization Certificate of the first installment is submitted.With regard to benchmarking of villages, all the villages would be graded/ranked on the basis of a survey, detailed guidelines for which would be subsequently notified by the Rural Development & Panchayats Department. Each district would benchmark all villages after a survey to assess the existing level of facilities of all village within the district.