(The Gist of Kurukshetra) CONNECTING
CONNECTING THE UNCONNECTED
Rural connectivity is a key component of rural development in
India. Rural roads provide basic inputs for all round socio-economic development
of the rural areas. The construction of roads brings various socio economic
benefits to the rural areas and result in forming a strong backbone for the
agro-based economy. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) mainly focuses on
development of rural roads. PMGSY was launched on 25th December, 2000 as a
centrally sponsored scheme to provide road connectivity in rural areas of the
country. PMGSY is designed to support Government of India’s agenda to provide
basic services that can improve the quality of life of the rural poor.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY):
PMGSY was launched in the year 2000, as a centrally sponsored
programme and a one-time special intervention. The primary objective of the
programme was to provide connectivity by way of all-weather roads to unconnected
habitations with population of 1000 and above by 2003 and those with population
of 500 and above by 2007 in rural areas. In respect of hilIy/deserted/tribal
areas, the objective is to link habitations with a population of 250 and above.
Upgradation of selected rural roads to provide full farm to market connectivity
is also an objective of the scheme. The country now has a network of about
3,99,979 km of such roads.
Adequate maintenance of the existing 4.6 million km of road
network is emerging as a major challenge. Many parts of the existing road
network are either vulnerable to or have already suffered damage from climate
induced events such as floods, high rainfall, sudden cloud bursts and
The PMGSY and the Bank’s involvement under this additional financing will
emphasize on managing the rural road network through green and climate-resilient
construction using green, low-carbon designs and new technologies far beyond
merely funding civil works. This will be done through the following measures:
Climate vulnerability assessment during the design process
to identify the critical locations affected by floods, water-logging,
submergence, cloud bursts, storms, landslides, poor drainage, excessive erosion,
high rainfall, and high temperatures.
Special treatment for flood-affected areas through
adequate waterways and submersible roads to allow easy passage of water, use of
concrete block pavements, and improved drainage.
Use of environmentally optimized road designs and new
technologies which uses local and marginal materials and industrial by-products
such as sand, local soils, fly ash, brick kiln wastes, and other similar
materials in place of crushed rocks.
Innovative bridges and culverts through use of
prefabricated/precast units for roads and bridges having better ability to
withstand earthquakes and water forces such as continuous beams, bearing free
construction, and river training works.
Use of hill cutting material in hill roads ensuring its
productive use and resolving its disposal problem, use of bio-engineering
measures, improved drainage and other treatments for landslide prone areas and
providing adequate slope protection.
Impact of PMGSY:
In agriculture sector, the scheme has opened avenues for
increase in usage of fertilizers and improved seeds, affected change in cropping
patterns, facilitated increase in use of motorized agriculture vehicles and
equipments, triggered increase in production of dairy, poultry and allied
activities besides increase in accessibility to markets for selling agricultural
produce. It has led to increase in employment opportunities in agriculture
sector and increase in employment opportunities outside the village due to
greater mobility. There is improvement in access to raw material for local
industries, improvement in access to market for finished goods. The all weather
roads have provided better access to Health Centres, better Availability of
vehicles to reach hospitals. PMGSY has to some extent contributed to increase in
attendance and enrolment of Primary & Middle Schools. The other benefits of
PMGSY include a diversified livelihoods’ portfolio, and improved quality of life
for rural communities.
Wide variations in unit costs among the states.
Maintenance of road network i.e generating funds for
road maintenance through appropriate local mechanisms
Delays in execution due to adverse weather condition
e.g monsoon, landslides etc.
Delays in acquiring land and in forest clearance
Law and order problems Non-availability of labour and
Lack of technically trained staff to execute and
monitor road works.
Providing public transport services.
The way Forward:
Overall, PMGSY has been successful as a policy with an objective
to expand the all-weather road network. The primary issue associated with PMGSY
is the maintenance of this huge network of roads. This aspect has been taken
care of in PMGSY II. For reducing cost of rural road construction the
nontraditional but durable and less expensive materials such as iron and steel
slag, fly ash and lime that are locally and easily available may be adopted for
road maintenance. Work should be scheduled after monsoons to avoid cost overruns
due to delays. Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT)( Annuity model) should be adopted
for developing rural roads. State governments should provide adequate financial
support in building roads. Gram panchayats should be entrusted to monitor road
construction and undertake minor road maintenance.
Rural roads provide connectivity in rural areas. Rural roads are
not only important for movement of agricultural and allied products from rural
to urban areas but it is equally important for growth of rural economy. After
the construction of PMGSY roads an improvement in the employment situation in
terms of more job opportunities, more avenues for self employment etc will take
place. PMGSY has achieved a great success in the field of road construction.
Finally rural roads under PMGSY will help to attain overall development of the
country and its citizens.