Indore: Union minister for Panchayati Raj and rural development Narendra Tomar does not agree with the notion that industrialisation benefits only the urban areas.
Tomar, who was here in connection with the Global Investors’ Scheme, in a conversation with Free Press, said that more investment benefits rural and urban areas alike.
Excerpts of interview:
FP: What is rural development and Panchayati Raj minister doing in the GIS?
Tomar: It is wrong to presume that industries benefit only the urban areas and their residents. Industries, basically, create employment and thus benefit everyone. Moreover, big industries often come up not in cities but outside them i.e. close to rural areas and the villagers around do benefit by them. Then, a big industrial unit and its township means markets, transport services and so on. There is demand for services. That also boosts the economy of the area around. Roads are built, ancillary industrial units come up. That also benefits the ruralites. The government has made it mandatory for industries to spend a part of their profits on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects. This money may and does bring development in the area around and is often spent on rural areas.
FP: What more benefits accrue to villages?
Tomar: If the state grows economically, some of its benefits are bound to reach the villages. The government’s revenue will rise and so will spending on rural development schemes and programmes. Creation of an atmosphere conducive to investment benefits all residents of the state. There is no urban-rural divide here.
FP: What is the focus of your ministry?
Tomar: We are primarily focussing on two sectors: Roads and toilets. By 2019, we are targeting to connect all villages with pucca roads under the PM’s Rural Roads Scheme. As part of the Swachchta Abhiyan, building toilets is also one of our key priorities. Here, we are getting a lot of help from industries through CSR funding. Providing safe and adequate drinking water is also on our agenda.
FP: What is the status of Gwalior-Chambal region as far as industrialisation goes?
Tomar: It is not as good as we would have liked it to be. Compared to other parts of the state, the region lags behind in industrialisation. We are trying to promote it. May be, something positive will emerge out of the deliberations in this meet.