NITI Aayog lauded on Wednesday 18 aspirational districts for scoring high on a ranking mechanism it has devised. This was calculated in November-December 2018 and December 2018-January 2019 on the basis of a dashboard mechanism.

The rankings reflect the overall improvements made across sectors and sector-specific ranks in the domains of health and nutrition, agriculture and water resources, education, skill development, financial inclusion and basic infrastructure.

Top performers

In December 2018-January 2019 batch, Chatra, Sahibganj and Hazaribagh in Jharkhand and Begusarai in Bihar have improved substantially and outperformed all other districts on all the above parameters.

In health and nutrition segment, Begusarai and Gaya in Bihar have improved. Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh and Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh have improved in education. Jamui in Bihar has improved in agriculture and water resources. Mewat in Haryana has improved in financial inclusion and skill development. Also, Ribhoi in Meghalaya has improved in infrastructure.

Additional funding

The Aspirational Districts Programme has evolved from the principle of ‘convergence of schemes’ to provision of additional financial resources to the districts to undertake innovative projects that significantly improve the indicators.

Earlier in December 2018,the Department of Public Enterprises notified rules mandating 60 per cent of CSR allocation of Central Public Sector Enterprises under health, nutrition and education to be spent on projects in aspirational districts.

“Today, additional funding to the tune of about ₹1,000 crore was announced for two years for projects under challenge method to be rewarded to top performing districts every month as per improvement made in the delta ranking,” a press statement released by NITI Aayog said.

The districts will be allotted supplementary funding by the Centre to focus on key projects in their districts. There will also be a team of experts in NITI Aayog to provide necessary technical assistance for preparing feasibility reports, monitoring and evaluation support to the projects to ensure transparent and targeted expenditure, the press statement added.

The funding allocation has been designed in a manner that districts having mineral fund accrual annually of more than ₹30 crore do not receive this additional allocation but are encouraged to continue focusing on bettering governance structures and implementation efficiency.

However, they were recognised for their performance by the NITI Aayog through a special commendation during the conference. States have also been requested to ensure that additional allocation of equivalent amount from DMF is made available to these districts.

Parity of allocation

To ensure fairness and parity of allocation, districts which receive funding under this scheme, will not be eligible for the same under any category in a calendar year. And in the interest of transparency and effective utilization of the funds, detailed guidelines will soon be notified.

Launched by the PM in January 2018, the Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme aims to quickly and effectively transform the most underserved 112 districts across India.

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