The provision of infrastructure services in Rohtak and Bhiwani districts, Haryana, India, 1981-98 : a geographical analysis
Abstract: Provision of three basic infrastructure services (namely education, health and transport) in Rohtak and Bhiwani Districts (India) is examined using three types of data: 1. 507 households spreading in 8 villages, 2. Informal discussion with villagers and services providers in both districts, and 3. Secondary data for 921 villages and 14 towns and cities. These data were analysed using both statistical and GIS techniques. The analysis reveals that quantitatively there has been considerable expansion of education and health services over a period of fifteen years (1981 to 1996), and the average distance people have to travel to access these services has also declined significantly. But little evidence was found of any logical criterion being followed for the location of new services and the upgrading of existing services. Consequently, there was no improvement in the efficiency level (measured in terms of demand and geographical distance) of existing infrastructure services (both public and private); moreover, the efficiency level of private services was significantly lower than that of public services. It was further observed that the poor and women had relatively poor access to education, health and transport; and income, caste, gender, education level and village location had significant impact on access to and utilisation of basic services. In the study area, public services were functioning sub-optimally and service users were not satisfied with the quality of services; a significant proportion of clients had to rely on private services. Although public services may not be available in all the villages, the main focus should now be on improving the quality of existing services. Therefore, a solid transport network is needed in rural areas so that the availability of frequent and reliable transport services facilitate villagers' access to quality services even if located at distant places. Thus far, the role of the public in service provision has been minimal, which may be one of the reasons for poor quality of public services. Therefore, the active involvement of clients (service users) is essential in the operation, maintenance and monitoring of basic services in order to improve their quality and efficient functioning, and to effectively cater for people's needs in general and deprived sections of the society in particular.