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Thursday, July 25, 2024

After 8 Years, Rural Road Construction Takes a New Direction

In a significant development, rural road construction under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has witnessed a turnaround, surpassing the target by 106% during the first quarter (April-June) of the current fiscal year. This achievement is a notable shift as the government strives to increase capital expenditure to stimulate economic growth.

Data from the National Statistical Office (NSO) reveals that a total of 6,403 kilometers of roads were constructed, exceeding the targeted 6,000 kilometers. This marks the first time in eight years that the scheme has exceeded its quarterly target. The last time such an achievement occurred was in 2015, with 10,726 kilometers of roads constructed against a targeted 5,200 kilometers for the same period.

The PMGSY, a rural development scheme, has faced persistent challenges in meeting its quarterly targets since the fiscal year 2016. It achieved only 71% of its target in April-June 2016, followed by 75% completion of works in the subsequent year. The lowest performance recorded was during the first quarter of the fiscal year 2019 when only 1,235 kilometers (9%) of roads were constructed against a target of 13,123 kilometers.

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) monitors various items under the Twenty Point Programme (TPP). Programs are categorized as “poor” if they achieve less than 80% of their targets, and as “very good” if they surpass 90% of their targets. In addition to rural road construction, the report also highlighted “very good” performance in parameters such as electricity supply, operational anganwadis, food security under the National Food Security Act, and the operational integrated child development blocks. On the other hand, parameters such as rural housing, self-help group promotion, and seedlings planted were categorized as “poor.”

Launched as a centrally-sponsored scheme in 2000, PMGSY aims to provide all-weather road connectivity to previously unconnected areas in India as part of a poverty reduction strategy. The first two phases of the scheme successfully completed nearly 700,000 kilometers of roads, accounting for approximately 99% of the sanctioned length.

In the 2023-24 budget, the Central government allocated nearly ₹19,000 crore to the PMGSY program, maintaining the same level of funding as the previous year. According to Union Minister of State for Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, as of earlier this year, only 18,983 kilometers of the sanctioned 99,319 kilometers have been constructed in the ongoing third phase, which spans from FY20 to FY25. This phase focuses on consolidating the rural road network to connect to gramin agricultural markets, higher secondary schools, and hospitals, with the aim of positively impacting agriculture, health, education, urbanization, and employment generation.

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