Government to introduce 2nd phase of rural roads project soon

Source: The Economic Times, May 23, 2012

NEW DELHI: Government is planning to start the phase 2 of its rural roads programme that will concentrate on road upgradation rather than new road connectivity.

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) launched in 2002 by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, has led to creation of 3, 50,000 km of roads that have connected 84,000 lakh rural habitations.

While in many states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh the targets under the phase 1 of the scheme are yet to be achieved, increasing number of other states have either achieved the targets or are going to within the next year.

PMGSY, a flagship scheme of the government, with an annual budgetary allocation of Rs 24,000 crore for 2012-13, is the second most expensive social welfare programme after the government’s rural employment guarantee scheme MGNREGA.

The scheme currently has state specific targets for new connectivity with lesser focus on upgradation projects; the next phase of the scheme is going to reverse the focus areas.

There are six states currently that have completed the targets set for new connectivity and upgradation projects under the phase 1 of the programme. They are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Nagaland and Haryana.

“There are many states that have completed their targets under PMGSY. We will go to the cabinet with a second phase of PMGSY next month,” said minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh.

“The second phase, that will focus of upgradation projects will be implemented first in these 6 states and then will be extended to the rest of the country,” added Ramesh.

The central government under the new scheme is likely to fund 75% of the cost of the road project, while the state government will provide for the rest of the 25%.

The government will also consider relaxing population requirements to be eligible under the scheme for hilly and naxal affected regions. Currently rural roads in villages having less than 500 habitations do not qualify for funding under the scheme.

Also, special focus for new connectivity is likely to be given to border areas where construction of roads has stagnated since the last two years.

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