Finance minister P. Chidambaram today gave a brief account of the progress made under the flagship programmes such as Bharat Nirman, which were aimed at boosting development in the rural areas. In his Budget speech, Chidambaram proposed to provide Rs 31,280 crore for Bharat Nirman as against Rs 24,603 crore in 2007-08. The minister said Bharat Nirman had made impressive progress in 2007-08. "At the current pace, on each day of the year, 290 habitations are provided with drinking water and 17 habitations are connected through an all weather road. On each day of the year 52 villages are provided with telephones and 42 villages are electrified. On each day of the year 4,113 rural houses are completed,' he said. The Budget proposed Rs 8,000 crore for the Mid-day Meal Scheme. The Mid-day Meal Scheme would now be extended to upper primary classes in government and government-aided schools in all blocks of the country. This would benefit an additional 2.5 crore children, taking the total number of children covered under the scheme to 13.9 crore. The focus of the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan would shift from access and infrastructure at the primary level to enhancing retention, improving quality of learning and ensuring access to upper primary classes. He said the model school programme, which aims at establishing 6,000 high quality model schools, would start this year and Rs 650 crore had been proposed for the scheme. Navodaya vidyalayas would be established in 20 districts that had a large concentration of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. On the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme, which was announced last year to enable students to continue their education beyond Class VIII and up to Class XII, he said 1,00,000 scholarships would be awarded and a corpus of Rs 3,000 crore built up in four years. The finance minister said pointing out that India has the opportunity become a knowledge society, he said following the Prime Minister's announcement an IIM had started functioning at Shillong, IISERs had started at Mohali, Pune and Kolkata and an IIIT at Kanchipuram. Referring to the government's promise to establish a central university in the uncovered states, he said 16 central universities would be established in 2008-09.

Although the State Government has declared some villages as "model village' from time to time its apathy towards them has raised a question mark about the Government's sincerity in making these villages as model villages. Jhaskal village under Satrasal GP in Dhubri district located in the far-western Part of the Indo-Bangla International border is a glaring example of underdevelopment. After 21 years of its declaration as a model village, Jhaskal area is still to see the light of development in communication, healthcare, education power supply, agriculture etc. Situated under Agomani Development block in Golakgani LAC, Jhaskal was formally declared as a model village and its foundation stone was laid on April -11, 1987 by the then Chief Minister of Asom Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. Though the people of the village are largely dependent on agriculture, they are deprived of the modern methods of agriculture including superior quality seeds, manure etc. Even the peasants do not get the right price for their produced goods. The education scenario in the village is also grim. The two ME schools established 22 years ago through public donations are yet to be provincialized by the Government. Great Jhaskal area has four Government LP Schools. These schools lack basic infrastructure like desks and benches. In comparison to students enrolment, there is also shortage of teachers. Three schools are still running with a single teacher each. In the name of healthcare, there is a sub-centre at Jhaskal but its lacks adequate nurse and medicines. As a result, for simple disease, the patients have to rush to Satrasal or Agomani for treatment. Road communication in the area is also very deplorable. In the monsoons due to lack of repair work, the village roads become muddy and waterlogged. Though there was a PWD road through the villages in the past, it was declared as a border road in 1985 at the time of fencing of barbed wire across the Indo-Bangla border resulting in a lot of troubles to the border people. Now, the villagers have to use the road as per the time and permission of the BSF. If not, they have to face action from them. Another grey area of this "model village' is power. The transformer remain out of order in majority of the days in the year making the villagers the worst sufferers. The village is also deprived of potable water. Though a Public health and Engineering scheme was launched at jhaskal Part -1, the people are deprived of its service. After six months of service, the scheme is lying abandoned for 19 to 20 years. It is worth mentioning here that several hundred bighas of lands in the area fall into India's side of the

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