Government of India has embarked on a policy of giving special focus and attention to 115 districts across 29 States for achieving their rapid transformation. This is in tune with the Prime Minister’s Vision 2022 of transforming India over the next five years. The scheme has been named as Transformation of Aspirational District Scheme (TAD) scheme. The districts have been identified on the basis of ranking achieved by them vis-a-vis certain defined parameters and indicators in five areas of health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, skill development and financial inclusion and basic information. Baramulla and Kupwara have been identified in the State of J&K as Aspirational Districts under the said initiative.
A multi-sectorial approach through convergence, integration and focused attention has been envisioned for achieving transformation of the District, with emphasis on real time monitoring of 49 key performance indicators under the auspices of NITI Aayog.
The weightage assigned to thematic areas like Health & Nutrition and Education, is 30 percent each. For Agriculture & Water Resources, Skill Development & Financial Inclusion and Basic infrastructure it is 10 percent each.
One of the striking features of TAD programme is that an online monitoring Dashboard has been created to receive real time progress data. The 115 Districts are now competing on daily basis and delta ranking of districts changes in correlation with data entry of 49 Key indicators.
Kupwara district is the frontier district of the Jammu and Kashmir state. The district is situated at an altitude of 5300 feet (above sea level) with varied topography. The western, northern and eastern areas of the district are hilly while as the southern areas are mainly plain. The geographical spread of the District is 2379 Sq Kms with 243kms long Line of Control. Forest area of the District is more than 70% and Net sown area is 17%.
The district is mainly agrarian and industrialization is poor and Urban based. Some of main economic activities are walnut production, apple production and paddy cultivation. Dairy development, Sheep rearing and goat rearing, poultry rearing are also among important economic activities. The district has an impressive milk production of 1.01 lakh MTs and stands 5th in the state. The district is also known for small scale spice grinding unit mills, white cement industries.
Handloom is a major activity in Sogam, Tanghdar, Trehgam and Qalamabad blocks. A total of 1150 weavers are involved in Shawl making and blanket weaving. Tourism Sector provides employment to 105 persons.
The district has beautiful tourist spots such as Lolab and Bangus Valleys with fast flowing streams and fragrant flower spots. These valleys have great tourism potential.
Taking opportunity in being identified as one of the Aspirational Districts by NITI Ayog, the District Administration has actively involved itself in working on all aspects which were required to lay basis for better road maps and policy planning.
Large database has also been created in respect of key sectors of Human Development. It took around three months to firm up the reliable and accurate data.
A comprehensive four years District Action Plan specifying therein quantifiable outcomes to be achieved by 2022 has been prepared for achieving the goal of rapid transformation. The painstaking efforts of involved officers lead by DDC Kupwara, Khalid Jahangir has helped in fine tuning the Action Plan 2018-22, which was then submitted to NITI AYOG.
The Government of India Nodal Officers guided the whole process through video conferencing sessions and discussions with all stake holders. This preliminary exercise has been appreciated by Prabhari officer as well.
There is paradigm shift in policy planning under TAD programme because outcome based approach has been adopted instead of traditional infrastructure driven approach. Social indicators in health and education keeps one interested and motivated to go for innovative strategies by involving veterans from respective fields. The strategies formulated have a positive correlation with the key performance indicators.
The Activity Plan as worked out for 49 indicators have been rolled out in field since March 2018 through field functionaries of Health, ICDS, Education, Nutrition Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Sheep husbandry Departments. Mass mobilization and involving all stakeholders is a priority while moving on path of transformation.
Talking of Health sector critical infrastructure gap has been identified based on the newly framed data base. Out of 302 Sub Centers/ Primary Health centers in the District, only 88 are housed in government accommodation. During the next four years all sub centers shall be provided government accommodation, by mobilizing resources from Health, BADP and tribal Schemes.
All 302 Sub Centres/ Primary Health centres in the District shall be converted into “Health and Wellness Centres” as envisaged in the related guidelines. All 39 Primary Health Centres shall be made compliant to Indian Public Health Standards. Total seven functional FRUs (First Referral Units) shall be established in Kupwara as per norms of minimum one per 300,000 in hilly areas. Moreover, Three First Referral Units (FRUs) shall be equipped with labour rooms and obstetrics OT, NQAS certified (to meet LaQShya guidelines).
Regarding social indicators of health sector, all villages of Kupwara are presently witnessing large activities be it providing Iron and Folic acid tablets in all schools, aiming at reduction in Anemia, or cent per cent immunization of children.
The institutions of celebrating village health and sanitation weeks have been revived and joint camps are being conducted in every village by Health and ICDS field functionaries.
This vital platform is helping district to move on many indicators together like registration of pregnant women within first trimester, percentage of pregnant woman taking supplementary Nutrition under the ICDS programme regularly, percentage of pregnant women having severe anaemia treated, against PW having severe anemia tested cases, promoting Sex Ratio at Birth and Institutional deliveries, etc.
Critical Infrastructure gaps Under Nutrition (ICDS) sector reveal that out of 2320 sanctioned ICDS centres, only 102 centres are in government accommodation. All remaining 2218 ICDS centres shall be constructed under convergence mode at unit cost of Rs seven lakhs (Rs six lakhs NREGS plus Rs 1.00 lakhs ICDS share).
Social indicators under ICDS sector is giving the district an opportunity to overcome severe and moderate malnourishment among children, reduce malnourishment and stunting issues among poor children, promote breastfeeding within one hour of birth , adequate diet to breastfed and non-breastfed children etc etc. The ICDS department is also picking required pace to achieve the set targets. It is to place on record that 69600 children of the district are registered with the ICDS department.
Under Education Sector there are also infrastructure gaps in the baseline data as on 31-3-2018 like 450 out of 1800 (25%) girl’s schools are without functional girls toilets. 619 out of 1838 (44%) schools are without functional drinking water facility and 74 out of 143 HS/HSS 52% are without functional electricity facility.
Education is main constituent of Human Development Index (HDI) and hence District Administration has put this Sector on fast forwarding mode. The above mentioned gaps are supposed to filled within shortest span of one month as targets have been given to PHE, PDD and RDD departments. The resources shall however be mobilized from different sources like education, BADP etc.
Education Sector Social indicators aim at improving learning outcomes taking the recent results of National Assessment Test as base value.
The District Administration after working on the framed strategies envisages conducting biannual Assessment Test before next Annual NAS test to witness the change in performance levels and to do mid-course corrections if required.
The other indicator is improving Female (15 age group) literacy rate percentage from very poor 54% base value. The 145 page document titled District Action Plan 2018-22 clearly reveals the strategies formulated for improving all indicators including this one.
Agriculture sector transformation is the most challenging of all sectors as making District Mandi’s functional coupled with linking them with e-Markets, promoting high value crops, promoting double cropping and organic farming, increasing area under micro irrigation and covering farmers under Fasal Bima Yojna is facing some administrative hiccups as of yet.
However, again the breakthrough is expected shortly with the intervention of Administrative secretaries of Agriculture and Horticulture. At the same time two indicators under Agriculture are related to Artificial insemination and Vaccination of animals, which are progressing very well through the intervention of Animal Husbandry and Sheep Departments.
The District Administration has also identified five organic villages this year, and very significant progress is reported by CAO Kupwara in these villages. Apiculture is also being promoted and practiced as never before. One of the main perceived constraints in Agriculture Sector is non-picking up of PMKSY scheme in Irrigation sector, which requires immediate intervention of respective Administrative Secretary.
Under general Basic Infrastructure category, Power Development Department needs to gear up by covering 25591 remaining households of 99909 households (26.7%) with electricity connection. Similarly coverage of PHE habitation has also to go a long way from 478 habitations to 1065 habitations by providing minimum 40 LPCD water.
However, a road map envisages moving fast in the mentioned indicators and concerned departments have started moving in this behalf. The remaining indicators under basic infrastructure category like PMGSY all weather road coverage and PMAY houses are progressing comfortably well.
Financial Inclusion schemes have also been taken account while ranking competing Districts. This has made the monthly DLRCs of Financial institutions more vibrant now and progress under PMJJY, PMSBY,APY,PMJDY and Mudra schemes have dramatically picked up.
Skill Development has also been factored in rating Districts by including indicators like the number of youth certified in short term and long term training schemes/number of youth in district in age group 15-29 and number of certified youth employed/number of youth trained under short term and long term training.
The District has started progressing in skill also as PMKK institute and government Institutes have formulated a joint strategy to train as many as 6000 youth in 2018-19 alone against the gap of 30000 youth till 2022 as per NSDC report.
Although the first delta ranking released by NITI Ayog of initial two months has shown that Kupwara has not improved at higher incremental rate, but District Administration is firm and all prepared to change the fate of District in stipulated four years time that is till 2022. This shall be achieved by moving faster in all 49 key performance indicators while resolving the administrative and resource issues timely.
The Vision of transformation has also been formulated which is transformation of Kupwara into modern, progressive and self-sustaining district with thrust on economic empowerment, inclusive growth and people participation by channelizing skill potential, while causing minimal stress to environment and ecology with due emphasis on maintenance of natural/cultural heritage of the district, so as to afford its residents a decent and dignified life.
Author is Chief Planning Officer Kupwara