The government has identified 846 products for which the business community could have a partnership with panchayats for establishing rural business hubs based on Chinese model.
The rural business hubs scheme, launched in 2004, to be set up in partnership with CII would "upgrade and upvalue the skill and the products made by the villagers," Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shanker Aiyer said in an interactive session with the forum of Financial Writers.
This is a new experiment based on P4 model (public-private-panchayat-partnership) and so far 72 companies have evinced interest in setting up such business hubs.
So far 30 MoUs have been signed for such hubs in Karnataka, Haryana, Uttaranchal, he said, adding that the first such hub has been set up near Nainital in collaboration with ITC for fruits and its products.
The Nainital business hub is set up on an experimental basis and is completing its first anniversary in June when the ministry will review its performance. Three MoUs have been signed with Haryana government to produce Jathropha.
A co-ordination committee has been set up for this purpose, which is co-chaired by Aiyer and Hero Honda Chief Executive Sunil Munjal from CII.
Aiyer said he hoped to double the number of MoUs for such business hubs in the country in next 12 months and the idea is to have as many as 30,000 such hubs like the ones in China.
He said there would be a great synergisation in schemes of various ministeries through rural business hubs than any other route.
"With the high-level involvment of CII and different wings of governments and Panchaytas, we may be able to transform the image of rural India," he said.
On devolution of powers to panchyats, the Centre has signed a memorandum of understanding with 12 states and two union territories.
The states are Karnataka, West Bengal, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Goa, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh and the Union Terrotries are Lakshwadeep and Chandigarh.
MoUs have been signed voluntarily in collective consensus and more states are expected to sign in the near future.
The MoUs follow a fresh national impetus for devolution of powers and responsibility through state ministers of panchayati Raj which arrived by consensus at 150 recommendations pertaining to 18 dimensiuons.
The states that have signed MoUs will, on a quarterly basis, furnish information woth regard to implementaion on the recommendations.
The three main tasks of this is to complete activity mapping of various districts, creation of panchayat window in all the state budgets and district planning.
"These constitutes three major priorities on which Panchayati Raj ministry is working with states," Aiyer said, adding that pace, extent and nature of devoulution was all in the hands of the states.
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