Jairam clears massive outlay for Bihar's rural infrastructure

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday cleared the decks for a huge fund outlay which is set to bolster Bihar's rural infrastructure.

Speaking to journalists here, Mr. Ramesh said the Union Rural Ministry would pump in Rs. 2,500 crore for laying of over 6,500 km of rural roads across the State for fiscal 2011-12.

“Bihar is a top priority for us with Rs. 8,000 crore being allotted from the Central funds for rural works this year,” he said.

The amount is a significant jump from the previous year, which saw the State getting barely over Rs. 800 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

Earlier, as a symbolic curtain-raiser, he inaugurated various schemes over Rs.100 crore in the Naxal-affrcted backwater of Sono in the State's Jamui district.

Bihar has nine of the designated 78 Left Wing Extremist (LWE) districts, with Munger and Kaimur being the recent additions to the list.

But the responsibility for maintenance of the roads, Mr. Ramesh said, would rest with the State government.

In 2002, the erstwhile RJD government under the Chief Ministership of Lalu Prasad, while refusing to take responsibility for maintenance, had given the task of constructing the State's roadways to five Central government construction agencies, namely the CPWD, the Railways-operated IRCON, the NBCC, the NPCC and the NHPC.

The result was a protracted game of mutual recrimination between the Centre and Mr. Prasad that had left Bihar with a decrepit rural infrastructure.

The State finally zeroed in on its ‘core network' of rural roads after more than two years of wrangling with the Union Rural Ministry.

“Maps have already been submitted by the State rural works department while funds for the construction of 1200 km of roads in five districts will be released immediately,” Mr. Ramesh said.

A core network constitutes the network of rural roads in a State necessary to provide basic access to all habitations. While the PMGSY concept is pivoted on the ‘habitation' model, Bihar till now based its core network on a ‘revenue village' approach, which effectively left out sparsely populated habitats in the remote hinterland.

Habitats with a populace of more than 250 people would now be linked by the PMGSY, Mr. Ramesh informed, adding that scheme would link Lachhaur in Jamui , said to be Lord Mahavira's birthplace.

Rs. 8,000 crore to be allotted for rural works

Inaugurates various schemes in Naxal-hit Jamui district