Five-year impasse on Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana in West Bengal broken

Announcing that a five-year impasse on the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in West Bengal has been broken, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said here on Saturday that the Centre has agreed to upgrade 5,733 km. of rural roads built by red sand (murram roads) under the central scheme.

Mr. Ramesh said the State government will need to send by October 24, a detailed project report (DPR), approved by the zilla parishads, where the work will be taken up.

Emphasising that “approval of zilla parishads is essential” for the Centre's sanction, he said this condition was applicable to all the States.

The impasse over 12,319 km. of murram roads in the State had started during the rule of the Left Front government, which had shown the habitation connected by these roads as linked, and had then wanted the roads to be upgraded under the PMGSY.

Mr. Ramesh said that in the first phase, 5,733 km. of through roads connecting habitations would be upgraded, and in the second phase, work for the remaining 6,586 km. of link roads would be taken up.

Pointing out that only 66 per cent of the 12,000 habitations eligible to be connected under the PMGSY were linked in the State so far, Mr. Ramesh said the State government had agreed to give a proposal for 4,000 km. of new connectivity under the scheme. “All unconnected habitations with a population of 250 or more in Maoist-activity-affected Bankura, Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and some other districts with a population of more than 500 will be connected under the scheme,” he said, adding that the State government will have to submit the DPR for the Rs. 2,000-crore proposal by June 24.

Calling the initiative to connect the Maoist-affected-areas as a major step forward, Mr. Ramesh said the Ministry was taking similar steps in all the 78 affected districts in the country.

Last year only 1,200 km. of roads were laid in the State. For 2012-13, he said, there will be a massive increase, as work for nearly 10,000 km. of rural roads would be taken up.

Lauding the efforts of Mr. Ramesh to resolve the impasse, Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said a solution had proved elusive during Mr. Ramesh's earlier visits.

Regarding approval of zilla parishads, most of which were administered by the Left Front, Mr. Mukherjee said it was a “difficult but not impossible task,” and expressed the hope that all political parties would come together for development.

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