Staff Correspondent: The government is set to embark on a multidimensional plan to modernize villages with urban amenities and present rural folk a dazzle of urbanization in view of the country’s urban areas continuing to absorb explosive population growth.
Dwelling on the plan to turn villages into towns, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Md Tajul Islam said that financial and administrative authorities will be decentralized up to local government bodies.
“Cooperatives system in rural areas would be rejuvenated to generate self-employments for youths,” he added.
In view of the present socio-economic context, the rural Bangladesh has become a focal point for issues of national concern with the impact of high population and development on natural resources, lack of sanitation and its impact on health, water pollution from raw sewage and pesticides runoff and soil loss and desertification due to erosion. With about sixty five per cent population residing in the country’s rural areas and lacking in urban facilities prompted the present government to go for the multidimensional plan.
To empower the rural people the government aptly has envisioned on turning villages into towns as outlined in the electoral manifesto of Awami League. Tajul Islam said Bangladesh Samabaya Bank distributed around Tk 17.43 crore loans among 4125 members of 109 cooperatives associations in different productive sectors, including small businesses, fisheries, livestock farming, tea production, agricultural products and solar and ICT projects.
He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ten initiatives including One House Ektee Bari Ektee Khamar (EBEK) and Palli Sanchay Bank, Sheltering Project, Education Assistance Programme, Women Empowerment, Electricity to Every House, Community Clinic and Social Safety Net Programme are being implemented to turn the country into a middle income one by 2021.
EBEK project director and Palli Sanchay Bank managing director Akber Hossain said currently the government is giving maximum Tk 50,000 as loans among rural people to initiate small livestock farms. “We have a plan to double the amount from the next year,” he added.
Experts are of the opinions that advancing technology can be regarded as one of the tools that can bridge the gap between the urban Bangladesh and the rural Bangladesh.
Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment and lack of science and technology, education and research amenities have been attributed to rural backwardness, they said. Electricity, drinking water, health care and sanitation seek immediate attention.
School dropouts need to be restricted and the people with less interest in studies would require developing skills and talents. Steps to empower the farmers with better agricultural techniques should be focused.
Tajul said works are underway to set up 100 economic zones and mega projects are being implemented to create employment opportunities for 1.28 crore in the next 5 years. The minister said megaprojects including Payra port, Sonadia deep sea port, Rampal power plant and Matarbari power plant projects are under implementation.
He said the country will be brought under 100 percent electricity coverage by 2021 as power generation capacity stands at 20,775 MW with 92 percent people getting electricity now.
Tajul said under the South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Project, works are underway to upgrade highways from Gazipur to Burimari land port in Lalmonirhat district via Tangail and Rangpur to a four-lane to connect the capital Dhaka with the northern districts.
“Congenial education atmosphere for children, fresh drinking water and sanitation will be ensured in the villages while infrastructures will be built for sports and recreations,” he added. Poverty rate will be reduced to 12.3 percent and that of extreme poverty to 5 pc, as per the election manifesto of Awami League.
Technological advancements together with increase in literacy in rural areas are best tools to get over the prevailing problems.