Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas

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Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA) is a strategy for rural development in India. This concept was given by former president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and discussed in his book Target 3 Billion which he co-authored with Srijan Pal Singh. The genesis of PURA can be traced to the work done by Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute in the early 1990's on Taluka energy self-sufficiency.[1] It was shown in the study that energy self-sufficient talukas can be a new development model for rural India in terms of creation of jobs and better amenities to its population.[2]

PURA proposes that urban infrastructure and services be provided in rural hubs to create economic opportunities outside of cities. Physical connectivity by providing roads, electronic connectivity by providing communication networks, and knowledge connectivity by establishing professional and technical institutions will have to be done in an integrated way so that economic connectivity will emanate. The Indian central government has been running pilot PURA programs in several states since 2004. The Shyama Prasad Mukherjee National Rural Mission is a successor to this mission.[citation needed]


To make basic amenities like good roads and drinking water accessible to people even in remote villages, The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India has re-launched the scheme Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) as a Central Government scheme during the remaining period of the eleventh five-year plan.[citation needed] MoRD, with support from Department of Economic Affairs and the Asian Development Bank (which provided the technical assistance), intends to implement the PURA scheme under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between Local executive bodies like the Gram Panchayat(s) and private sector partners. The vision of the scheme in particular is providing dual benefits like rural infrastructure development coupled with economic re-generation activities; it is the first attempt of the government in this direction of delivering basic amenities and infrastructure through this model to people in remote rural areas. All the efforts are directed to obtain dual benefits, provide a different framework for the efficient implementation of rural infrastructure development schemes and benefit from the private sector efficiencies in the management of assets and delivery of services.[3]


After India gained its independence[when?], despite of a plethora of welfare schemes and activities aimed at rural areas in successive five year plans, a skewed development model increasing the disparities between the rural and the urban areas proliferated. Lack of livelihood opportunities, modern amenities and services for decent living in rural areas lead to migration of people to urban areas. There are wide gaps in the availability of physical and social infrastructure between rural and urban areas. To address these issues, the President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam highlighted a vision of transformation of rural India by launching a large-scale mission for Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA).

On the eve of India’s 54th Republic Day, in 2003, Dr. Kalam addressed the nation explaining them his vision for a new India. He visualised providing four elements of connectivity: physical connectivity, electronic connectivity, knowledge connectivity leading to economic connectivity of rural areas and where there would be a lesser urban-rural divide. PURA was envisaged as a self-sustainable and viable model of service delivery to be managed through an implementation framework between the different stakeholders involved, namely local people, public authorities and the private sector. Government support would be in the form of finding the right type of management structure to develop and maintain rural infrastructure, empowering management structure and providing initial economic support. Subsequently, the Prime Minister of India also announced implementation of a PURA scheme in his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2003.


"Holistic and accelerated development of compact areas around a potential growth center in a Gram Panchayat (or a group of Gram Panchayats) through Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework for providing livelihood opportunities and urban amenities to improve the quality of life in rural areas"[4]


The vision of transformation to a 'developed' India can only be realized if we launch a mega mission for empowering the rural people. Creation of Physical, electronic and knowledge connectivities leading to economic connectivity in villages. Such a model of establishing a circular connectivity among the rural village complexes will accelerate rural development process by empowerment. sundarchinna was rural development programes


Public–private partnership (PPP)[edit]

The Mission & Vision of PURA is to bring together the experience & expertise of both public & private players to achieve the objectives which are proposed to be achieved under the framework of PPP between Gram Panchayats and private sector partner. Core funding shall be sourced from the Central Sector scheme of PURA and complemented by additional support through convergence of different Central Government schemes. The private sector shall also bring on board its share of investment besides operational expertise. The scheme would be implemented and managed by the private sector on considerations of economic viability but designed in a manner whereby it is fully aligned with the overall objective of rural development. To attract the private sector, there is a need to design a scheme that would be 'project based' with well defined risks, identified measures for risk mitigation and risks sharing among the sponsoring authority (Gram Panchayat), Government of India, State Government and the Private Partners

Pilot-testing and up-scaling[edit]

Seven pilot projects were implemented during the 10th Five Year Plan in Basmath (Maharashtra), Bharthana (Uttar Pradesh), Gohpur (Assam), Kujanga (Orissa), Motipur (Bihar), Rayadurg ((Andhra Pradesh) and Shahpura (Rajasthan). An evaluation study of these pilot projects was carried out by National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) which identified the necessity of community and private sector participation as essential factors and the need for factoring infrastructure development with lead economic activities and livelihoods creation, requirement of project site selection on the basis of growth potential and need for convergence with other schemes of the government. Based on the findings of the evaluation study by NIRD, comments, feedback received from different stakeholders like various ministries and departments, feedback received during consultations with private sector representatives and officials of State Governments, and the recommendations of the consulting team of Asian Development Bank, the scheme of PURA has been restructured for implementation on pilot basis during 11th Five Year Plan[5] as a Central Sector scheme.

Through the implementation of proposed pilot projects in different parts of India, the unique features of this scheme would be tested on the ground so providing lessons for upscaling in the future and extending PURA throughout the country. The entire process is intended to strengthen the institutional ability of a Gram Panchayat to undertake PPP and help pilot-test the viability of PPPs in rural infrastructure development.


For a Scheme of this magnitude and importance and the impact it could have in the future and change the very face of rural areas in a developing country like India, proper background research and planning has to be undertaken for the success of the project. The Private Partner selected after properly analyzing his financial and operational abilities to undertake PURA projects shall identify a Gram Panchayat, a cluster of geographically contiguous Gram Panchayats for a population of about 25,000– 40,000. Whereas, the cluster would be the project area, there may be sub-projects to cover each of the Panchayats within the cluster. Alternatively, a large single Panchayat could individually provide critical mass to make the project viable. In the pilot phase, the Private Partner is given the flexibility to identify and select the Gram Panchayat(s) for undertaking PURA projects based on their familiarity with the area or past experience of working at the grassroots level. In this identified PURA area, the Private Partner shall plan for the development / re-development of selected infrastructure services along with economic activities, after undertaking baseline studies.

Identification of infrastructure needs and urban amenities[edit]

The different amenities & activities can be divided into three types:

  1. Amenities/Activities to be provided under MoRD Ministry of Rural Development) Schemes (Mandatory),
  2. Amenities to be provided under Schemes of other Ministries (non-MoRD Schemes),
  3. Add-on Projects (Revenue earning, people-centered projects).[6]
MoRD Schemes Non-MoRD Schemes Add-on Projects
Water and Sewerage Village Street Lighting Village linked tourism
Construction and maintenance of Village Streets Telecom Integrated Rural Hub, Rural Market.
Drainage Electricity generation Agri – Common Services Centre and Warehousing.
Solid Waste Management Any other rural – economy based project.
Skill Development & Economical ability

Business model[edit]

The essence of the PURA scheme is to have the best of both the worlds Private & Public, The leveraging of public funds with private capital and management expertise for creation and maintenance of rural infrastructure.


Funding for the various projects taken up under the PURA scheme depending on the priority, relevance to the objectives of the government may come from four sources: MoRD schemes, non-MoRD schemes, private financing[7] and capital grants under PURA.

MORD schemes[edit]

As the main vision of PURA scheme is the convergence of various schemes and a sustainable framework for long term maintenance of assets keeping in view the long term vision of the government, most of the capital expenditure will have to come from government schemes. Only community development schemes would ordinarily be included as the private partners would find it difficult to manage individual beneficiary schemes.

Non-MORD schemes[edit]

The private partners selected shall also be responsible for delivering certain services under schemes of other ministries, as per the guidelines of those schemes. Alternatively, the concerned ministry may make funding available if it finds the service to be very relevant to the local people there and under those schemes through DRDA.[8]

Private funding[edit]

In some cases and schemes it is possible that the essential infrastructure may not get fully funded by government schemes to give equal responsibility and ownership to the private player in such instances wherein the developer shall invest some capital of its own to fund the CAPEX of such infrastructure and to meet the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. Financing of commercially viable add-on projects will be done fully through private funding.

Current status of PURA[edit]

Failure of PURA[edit]

Former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on 24 February 2012 launched the restructured PURA scheme that combines rural infrastructure development with economic regeneration in Private Public Partnership (PPP) mode and seeks to harness the efficiencies of the private sector. He slammed former president APJ Abdul Kalam's concept of PURA as a failure. Ramesh said that while the PURA launched by Kalam has failed, the reworked PURA will succeed.[9] The minister was optimistic about the success of the new PURA because of the difference in the objectives. He was of the view that, now the focus was on water supply, sanitation, and physical infrastructure rather than knowledge connectivity.

Extension to 2000 new towns[edit]

The Rural ministry plans to reform one of its ambitious yet not so successful programme – Provision of Urban amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) – to facilitate creation of urban infrastructure in around 2,000 new towns that have been identified by the 2011 decadal census. It is also trying to restructure the old PURA objectives laid down by the then President.[10]

Underpayment of wages[edit]

The Prestigious scheme proposed providing livelihood and urban amenities in compact areas around a potential growth center in Gram Panchayats through Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework to provide guarantee employment to rural areas so that they could have an assured income for at least 100 days of a year. The scheme is now facing rampant corruption, cases of underpayment of wages have been received by the government from all over the country.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Energy Self-Sufficient Talukas-A Solution to National Energy Crisis". Economic and Political Weekly, Vol - XXX No. 51, December 23, 1995.
  2. ^ "Talukas can provide critical mass for India's sustainable development" (PDF). CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 82, NO. 6, 25 MARCH 2002.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Latest Updates..." PURA. Archived from the original on 19 August 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Eleventh Five Year Plan 2007–2012". Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  6. ^ "Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 June 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Private Co's join hands with Centre for PURA – News". 11 October 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  8. ^ "District Rural Development Agency (DRDA)". 17 March 1997. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Jairam Ramesh criticises APJ Abdul Kalam's PURA, launches his own version – India – DNA". Daily News and Analysis. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  10. ^ Devika Banerji, ET Bureau 11 Oct 2011, 05.12am IST (11 October 2011). "Provision of Urban amenities in Rural Areas might be extended to 2,000 new towns identified by 2011 Census". The Economic Times. Retrieved 4 October 2012.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ PTI (8 December 2011). "MGNREGA scheme: 61 cases of under-payment of wages". The Economic Times. Retrieved 4 October 2012.

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