August 9, 2018
Paschimanchal Unnayan Affairs Dept – Bringing about big changes
The Paschimanchal Unnayan Affairs (PUA) Department (that is, ‘Western Region Development Affairs Department’) looks after the integrated development of more than a crore of people inhabiting the red laterite dry zone in the western part of Bangla. The region comprises of seven districts – Paschim Medinipur, Jhargram, Bankura, Birbhum, Purulia, Paschim Bardhaman, Purba Bardhaman – further subdivided into 74 blocks.
Various projects have been taken up by the PUA Department in different sectors such as rural connectivity (roads, bridges and culverts), water conservation, irrigation, agriculture, education, health, drinking water supply, and other socio-economic development and livelihood schemes.
Infrastructural development: Over the last seven years, more than 9,800 houses under the Gitanjali scheme, 1,880 ICDS (Anganwadi) centres, 675 roads, culverts and bridges, 670 structures related to irrigation and the Jalatirtha scheme, 900 deep tube-wells, 15 Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres, etc. have been completed by the Paschimanchal Unnayan Affairs Department.
Jangalmahal package: Under this package, nine roads have been built at a cost of more than Rs 2 crore.
Livelihood programmes: For employment generation through lac cultivation, several schemes were taken up in non-forest areas in the districts of Purulia, Paschim Medinipur and Bankura involving more than 10 thousand beneficiaries. Other livelihood and skill development programmes such as training in sal leaf plate making, organic vegetable farming, soya bean, grape, onion and turmeric cultivation, mobile phone repairing, computer training, two-wheeler repairing, plastic moulding training, and papad and designer candle making (especially for SHG members) have been taken up to improve the socio-economic status of the people of the region.
Cultural activities: In order to promote folk culture, dance and musical tradition of the people belonging to the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes of Jangalmahal, an annual festival, Jangalmahal Utsav is organised. The rural artisans of these districts also participate in the festival with their artefacts and handicrafts, for displaying and selling.
Besides the above long-term programmes, several initiatives have been taken up in recent times. Some of these are described below.
Micro-economic zones: Micro-economic zones (MEZ) are planned to be set up in Bankura and Purulia to create hubs of economic activity – creating and strengthening local supply chains, branding, packaging, quality control and selling – and thereby increasing the income levels of the local population.
Geospatial services for development: the PUA Department, in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation’s Regional Remote Sensing Centre in Kolkata, is developing a satellite imagery-based portal for purposes of planning and for identifying the critical gaps in development.
Rejuvenation of lac cultivation: A draft detailed project report (DPR) has been prepared with the assistance of the Indian Institute of Natural Resins and Gums for revitalising Lac cultivation in the district of Purulia.
Technology-intensive transformational projects: Three ICT-based pilot projects have been taken up in the district of Bankura – Digitally Inclusive Smart Agriculture (DISA), Digitally Inclusive Smart Sericulture (DISS) and the development of an e-commerce portal for artefacts of Bankura district.
- Digitally Inclusive Smart Agriculture: This project has been taken up to facilitate farmers with dissemination of ICT-based demand-driven agricultural information in various areas including crops, soil health, manure and fertilizer, water management, crop protection, agricultural implements, post-harvest technology, weather and market.
- Digitally Inclusive Smart Sericulture: This project has been taken up to facilitate farmers with the latest ICT-based state-of-the-art technology for sericulture activities, for improving the quality of silk and the quantity of silk production.
- E-commerce portal for locally produced artefacts of Bankura district: The basic objective of this project is to showcase and provide a platform for the sale of local produce to buyers within and outside the State, and thereby provide an alternative marketing channel to farmers and artisans.
Comprehensive integrated planning of the Paschimanchal region: Since there was no comprehensive integrated plan for the Paschimanchal region, a comprehensive integrated plan, including detailed descriptions of the key performance indicators (KPI) has been prepared in consultation with 13 departments that the PUS Department works with.