Addressing a press conference here after inaugurating a day-long national meeting of Tribal women gram panchayat presidents, the Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Sanitation and Drinking Water said over Rs 2 lakh crore would flow to the village panchayats as 14th Finance Commission grants in the next five years.

An equal amount would be available under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, he said. "So each panchayat, even a minor one, will get Rs 1.60 crore in total and in the next five years the gram panchayats will be in a position wherein at least 80 percent, if not 100 percent, of basic infrastructure will be in place," Singh added.

The panchayats would be at liberty to decide on the projects to be taken up. Funds from the Centre would henceforth be released directly into the gram panchayat's account and not through the state government, he added.

Under the Rurban Mission, launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February, 300 clusters would be developed in the country in the next three years.

"We have already chosen 100 clusters. Each cluster can have three to 30 villages depending on their size and a population between 25,000 and 50,000. Funds for development of these clusters can come from Centre, the state government or under the Public-Private Partnership mode. In needy cases, there is scope for critical gap funding up to 30 per cent," the Union Minister cited.

Singh said as many as 10 lakh "barefoot engineers and technicians" were being trained across the country to help gram panchayats prepare estimates for development works.

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