Connecting Rural India

GS-2 Issues related to development, Government Policy and intervention

CONTEXT

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) which comes  under the purview Ministry of Finance gave its assent for continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-I and II (PMGSY-I and II) upto September, 2022. The major object of the project is to complete the balance of road and bridge works in rural areas. The Prime Minister who acts as a head of CCEA has approved continuation of Road Connectivity in areas under Left Wing Extremism (RCPLWEA) by the first quarter of 2023. The proposals came from the Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development.

SALIENT FEATURES

PMGSY- Phase I: It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, launched in the year 2000 to provide infrastructure connectivity to the unconnected habitations of more than 500 regions and more than 300 regions in North-East and Himalayan states as per census 2001. The development under this phase also included upgradation of already existing rural roads for those districts where all the eligible  rural population had been saturated.

PMGSY- Phase II: It was approved by the government in mid of  2013. This phase of the scheme envisaged consolidation of 50,000 Km of the existing rural road network of the country.

PMGSY- Phase III: It was given assent in 2019 for completion of 1,25,000 Km approx existing road network through routes and major rural links connecting habitations, inter-alia, to Gramin Agricultural Markets, Higher Secondary Schools and Hospitals. The time period of the scheme extends upto March, 2025.

Connectivity Project In Red Corridor: Road connectivity project for red corridor states (Left wing Extremism area) was launched in 2016. It aims to complete upgradation of 5,500 Km approx road length and 125 bridges of strategic importance in 44 districts in 9 states, viz. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, MP, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. Target period was 2016-17 to 2019-20. Road and bridge construction work to be taken up under the scheme of these regions comes under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with states and security forces.

 Significance of PMGSY:

  • Various impact evaluation research carried out on the scheme have stated that it had a significant positive impact on agriculture,  rural education, urbanization, health, and employment generation, etc. 

  • All weather road connectivity to balance habitations would unlock the economic potential of the rural areas.

  • Upgradation of the existing rural infrastructure would improve the overall efficiency of the road network as a provider of transportation services for people, goods and services.

  • The construction/upgradation of roads would generate both direct and indirect employment and will help to mitigate urban migration.

Challenges to PMGSY:

  • Lack of dedicated funds for  rural infrastructure.

  • Panchayati Raj Institutions participation is low.

  • Inadequate execution 

  • Contracting capacity.

  • Less working due to weather

  • Difficult terrain particularly in Hill areas.

  • Low Quality of the construction materials.

  • Security concerns particularly in Naxalite areas.

Way Forward

Rural Connectivity is an essential element of Rural Development as it promotes access to economic and social resources. Moreover, it helps in generating increased agricultural incomes and productive employment opportunities in India. In this regard, the government can consider engagement with global financial institutions like World Bank which provide special assistance  to construct basic rural infrastructure.

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