Construction of more than 24,000 km of road length under the first phase of the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), which was launched in 2000 by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is pending, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development said in a report that was tabled in Parliament on July 27.
The report has recorded the progress up to October 25, 2022. Under the second phase of the programme that began in 2013, construction of 1,562 km of road length was still incomplete, it said.
The parliamentary panel, headed by DMK MP K. Kanimozhi, expressed “utmost concern” about the inordinate delay in the completion of targets under the two phases.
The committee noted that much time had elapsed than could have been ever thought about at the start of the programme.
“Needless to say that the sufferers of such delay are the rural populace of the country who wait with bated breath for the construction of roads so that they can also expect a rise in economic/developmental activities around their habitation for finding a better avenue of livelihood generation,” the committee noted in the report.
Rural roads, the report stated, were akin to the arteries of the body which connect the hinterland of the vast stretch of the country with the cycle of ongoing development in every sphere of the society.
The committee directed the Union Rural Development Ministry to complete the two phases on “war footing”.
The PMGSY was launched on December 25, 2000 as a centrally sponsored scheme to provide all-weather roads to unconnected habitations with a population of over 500 in the plains and over 250 in the hill States and the northeast.
A total of 6,45,400-km road length was sanctioned under new connectivity, of which 6,20,828-km had been completed till October 25, 2022.
The second phase of the programme was launched in 2013 to consolidate the existing rural road network. A total of 49,873-km road length was sanctioned under this leg, of which 48,311 km had been completed till October 25, 2022, as per the report.
The Ministry informed the panel that the delay in the two phases was due to challenges such as land acquisition, forest clearance, poor contracting capacity of States, lack of response to tenders, law and order issues, financial capability of States to release funds and so on.
A significant portion of the delay was in the northeastern States, where, the Ministry said, there were additional issues like “adverse climatic conditions, tough terrain and short working season”.