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Habitat Infrastructure

by deepak last modified 2010-01-20 18:26

Habitat Infrastructure Sustainable Health and Prosperous Villages

Infrastructure within a human settlement is a critical determinant of the quality of life in the settlement. It also provides a framework for the economic potential of the settlement and its people. There are two broad categories of infrastructure in the rural context:
a) Physical infrastructure which includes village infrastructure that is limited to the village per se such as the roads within the village and, core infrastructure which refers to infrastructure that is managed at district and state level such as state and district  roads, railways and power supply. 
b) Social infrastructure which specifically refers to infrastructure needed for uses that are more ‘social’ in nature such as schools, health centres, etc.


Village infrastructure comprises of rural connectivity (roads, power), housing, irrigation, mandis and drinking water at village/intra-village level. Rural road connectivity is an extremely important aspect of rural development. The Government has also launched “Rural Infrastructure Development Fund” and “Bharat Nirman” for the development of rural infrastructure.

The construction of village infrastructure needs to take into account eco-friendly materials, techniques and technologies; for example, construction of paved village streets that allow for water percolation during rainy season, suitable drainage and harvesting, converting bio-wastes into composting, etc. 

 For housing, the Indira Awaas Yojana is the primary housing related scheme under Bharat Nirman Programme. A National Rural Habitat and Housing Policy that covers all three infrastructure development above is on the anvil that promotes ecological construction.    


Core infrastructure refers to core/essential infrastructure that is managed at district and state level.  It comprises of transportation (roads, railways, airports, etc.); and energy (generation, transmission and distribution). Rural electricity involves supply of energy for two types of programmes:
a) Production oriented activities like minor irrigation, rural industries, etc.
b) Electrification of villages.

Here the role of renewable energy systems and management at Panchayat level attain significance for quality services delivery. 

Biogas plants, solar street light poles and solar plants are renewable sources of energy that can be developed for generation of electricity. In the case of biogas plants the biomass from agro-waste and cow-dung can be converted into fuel gas. Besides these renewable sources of energy which are more common in rural development, wind energy and hydro-energy can also be considered as possible sources. Small-scale wind turbines can be used to pump water. The Government of India has different subsidy plans and tax holiday for renewable energy. Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidutikaran Yojana is one major scheme for the electrification of villages.  Panchayats, in partnership with industry and banks, can set up such infrastructure projects at village level directly or through SHGs and small entrepreneurs. 


Development of physical infrastructure cannot lead to overall development at the desired level if social infrastructure is not simultaneously developed. Social infrastructure comprises of health centres, schools, anganwadis, places of worship, libraries, public parks, veterinary clinics, leisure and entertainment centres, etc.  These facilities need to be developed in a sustainable manner by introducing low energy materials, rain water harvesting systems and ecological sanitation systems.

Training to local masons should be provided for eco-friendly techniques.  Local engineering staff needs training, and local schedule of rates need to incorporate the items that are deemed eco-friendly for wider application.

basin South Asia 2009 Designed and supported by OneWorld South Asia