A pilot project for geo-satellite monitoring of road construction has found nearly one-third (31%) of the village roads in ten districts across India to be shorter than the sanctioned length.
The four-month-long survey – taken up under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in Odisha, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Assam – also found that nearly one of every five rural roads stopped short of the habitations they were meant to connect. The project had concluded late last month.
These findings alarmed the government, prompting the ministry of rural development to undertake monitoring of all such roads in India under the scheme by the end of this year. The pilot project was carried out by the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) in Hyderabad.
“We will universalise the monitoring system now,” an official declared, adding that the ministry has decided to enter into an agreement with the National Remote Sensing Agency – which manages India’s satellite data – in this regard. He said the NIRDPR uses a software that can study the images and calculate the exact length of a winding road, leaving little scope for manipulation.
“The findings will help us not only in monitoring the ongoing (road building) projects but also planning the next ones,” another top official said.
The project studied all the roads under the scheme for their length, optimal alignment and cross-drainage structures such as bridges.
An official said although there is a mismatch between the sanctioned road length and the actual construction “in certain cases”, the ministry was yet to ascertain the reasons behind it. The report has been shared with the states for their response, which is expected by next month.
The PMGSY, a flagship programme of the government launched in 2000, intends to lay 4.8 lakh km of roads by 2019. The pace of road construction has picked up from 73 km a day in 2011-2014 to 139 km in 2016. “The Prime Minister wants all the villages in the country to be connected through these roads by March 2019,” a top government functionary said.