After aspiration districts, Modi unveils block level plan

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, January 7: With election calendar getting busier this year in the run up to the next year’s Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday unveiled the plan to take aspirational districts to the block levels. He unveiled the plan on the concluding day of the second national conference of chief secretaries in the national capital.

Launching the Aspirational Block Programme, Prime Minister underscored the success achieved in the districts. As part of the Aspirational District Program, monitored by the Niti Aayog, the Centre and the state government works for the convergence of the efforts to scale up the reach of education, health services, nutrition and sanitation.

The Niti Aayog had unveiled the plan for 117 aspirational districts in the country. West Bengal had not joined the plan as the state government and the Centre sparred over the scope of the scheme. The Niti Aayog has been ranking the aspirational districts on tangible parameters to gauge the achievements of the districts, which were the poorest in the country.

However, the aspirational districts had shown no exceptional performance during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The aspirational district plan to be now implemented at the block level is an effort of the Central government under the supervision of the Niti Aayog to accelerate the achievements of the sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations by 20230. The United Nations in a report last year had stated that none of the 300 countries which had committed to the SDGs had shown any progress on any of the goals in the last two years since the outbreak of the pandemic.

To address the issue of nutrition, the Centre has unveiled ‘Poshan Abhiyan’, with a focussed target in the aspirational districts to improve the nutrition among the women and the children. A report had recently stated that the cases of stunting continued to prevail in the country. The Centre is now broadening the scope of the coverage of fortified rice, beginning with aspirational districts, under which kernels made of minerals are added to rice.

The Centre has also sought to work on an accelerated enhancement of enrolment in schools in the aspirational districts, while boosting the health care facilities with increased primary health infrastructure. The Centre and the states pool their resources in he aspirational districts, which would now be replicated at the block levels. However, the Centre has not yet stated the number of blocks in the country where the plan will be implemented.

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