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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Rains slow down pace of road construction in rural areas

A rural development ministry official said the rate of road construction was 134 km per day last year, while this year it is around 52 km per day

india Updated: Sep 26, 2018 15:27 IST
Anisha Dutta
Anisha Dutta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A view of the Beas River after incessant rains, in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, on Tuesday.
A view of the Beas River after incessant rains, in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

Continuing monsoon rains have slowed down the pace of road construction under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), with the number declining from 134 km per day last year to around 52 km per day in the current financial year, the lowest in a decade.

Launched in 2000 by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, PMGSY aims at linking unconnected habitations in the country as part of an effort to connect them to the economic mainstream.

“This year, we are having a problem with road construction because of the rains. Even now, in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, construction is affected and there might be issues in other states as well. Last year, our rate of road construction was 134 km per day, while this year it is around 52 km per day,” a rural development ministry official said, requesting anonymity.

The problem has cropped up at a time when the rural development ministry has advanced the deadline of the first phase under PMGSY from 2022 to 2019. The ministry is tasked with building 61,000 km of road and covering over 19,000 habitations in the current financial year as per the union budget 2018-19.

“In the corresponding period last year, we completed about 12,000 km of road construction. This year, we have been able to complete only 8,568 km as the rains postponed construction,” the official added.

The ministry, however, expressed confidence about achieving its target, saying the speed of construction would pick up after the rains.

“Rains are a major challenge, especially in the north eastern and hilly regions, but we are confident we will be able to make up for the loss. In fact, this year we are very certain we’ll be able to touch the 140 km construction per day mark as the construction season begins after the rains,” another government official said, also requesting anonymity.

The pace of construction of PMGSY roads reached an eight-year high of 134 km per day in 2017-18 as against an average of 73 km between 2011 and 2014, a ministry statement issued in April 2018 noted.

“...Around April 2014, we had about 55% habitations which were connected, whereas today it is closer to around 90% and this year alone we shall be connecting around 18,000 . If we do poorly, we should be able to cover about 98%, and if we do well, we should do about 99. 5%,” the second official added.

According to road sector experts the rural development ministry will ensure that significant progress is made due to the general elections being held next year.

“Road construction is very sensitive to rainfall and during the rainy season virtually no work can be taken up. But given the general election year is nigh they will be very particular in executing phase III of PMGSY which is connecting hospitals and schools with the interiors of villages which is also a target area of the current financial year. Therefore to show some progress before elections they will definitely put all possible efforts to ensure that the targets are met,” said Rajeshwar Burla, Assistant Vice President at ICRA Ltd.

The PMGSY had identified 178,184 habitations to be covered under the programme since its inception PMGSY and involved construction of about 3.71 lakh KM of roads for new connectivity while 3.68 lakh KM roads were to be upgraded. According to the ministry, 5.59 lakh KM roads have been constructed so far.

First Published: Sep 25, 2018 23:30 IST

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