The UPA-II's big-ticket plan to build roads through some of the poorest districts of the red corridor has taken a hit.
Paucity of funds seems to have forced the government to go slow on the second phase of its ambitious road expansion programme in 34 districts of eight states hit worst by Naxal violence.
The finance ministry has tightened its purse strings, refusing to give an additional Rs 9,400 crore to the road transport ministry.
It has, instead, asked the road transport ministry to do some "innovative dovetailing" with ongoing Centre-funded schemes of other ministries such as the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, interstate connectivity road scheme, tribal sub-plan and the integrated action plan for Left wing extremism-hit districts.
In other words, the finance ministry expects it to use money earmarked for these schemes to fund the road-laying project.
The finance ministry believes that individual projects of phase-II can be accommodated in various centrally funded schemes over the next five years in these 34 districts.
The road ministry's proposal, which came up for approval at the Centre's expenditure finance committee meeting in October, failed to pass the muster. "We told them (road transport ministry) that it won't be possible to fund the programme from our plan outlay. It would affect other projects," said a finance ministry official.
Meanwhile, the phase-I work continues to move at snail's pace. Of the proposed 5,477-km two-lane road stretches that were approved in 2009, the road ministry has completed just 1,865 km.