Social activist Anna Hazare on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Smart Cities' initiative will cause disastrous consequences for India's dominantly rural economy.
In a three-pager to the PM, Hazare said while Mahatma Gandhi advocated developing the villages as self-sufficient units, Modi talked about urbanization and 'Smart Cities'.
He said that urbanization had shot up consumption of petrol, diesel, kerosene and coal, leading to diseases and global warming, meltdown of the ice-caps and rising sea levels.
Besides, in 68 years since independence, the importance given to urbanization had created a large number of accompanying issues like rising population as well as more and bigger dams, Hazare added.
Referring to Gandhi's call to 'Go To Villages', Hazare asked Modi to emphasise on making villages the centre-point for development which would have overall benefits for the entire country.
Hazare's letter came in response to Modi's speech while inaugurating the NDA government's nationwide Smart Cities Project in Pune on June 25.
Citing the example of his own village Ralegan-Siddhi in Ahmednagar district with 2,500 people, he said that by following Gandhiji's ideals, the village with 80 percent starvation rate now produced agriculture produce worth crores of rupees and at least 5,000 liters of milk daily.
He said the local youths were fully employed and earn more than what they would if they had migrated to cities. Instead, they now hire families from outside to labour in the village.
Hazare said between 1857 and 1947, thousands of people sacrificed their lives for the freedom struggle, but yet real democracy eludes the country without decentralization of power.
"In the wake of the above, people are confused as to who is right - Gandhi who advocated rural development or Modi who promotes urbanization. This is the question in the minds of the masses," Hazare said.