New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has rolled out the third phase of the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), but many states and union territories are still lagging behind the targets set in the earlier phases of the programme, ThePrint has learnt.
While most of the states with a sluggish rate of road construction under PMGSY are in the Northeast, rural road construction has been progressing at a snail’s pace in Jammu and Kashmir too.
Launched by Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar Wednesday, the third phase of the rural road programme, aimed at bringing India’s villages closer to hospitals, markets and schools, will build 1.25 lakh km of arterial roads across India.
Around Rs 80,000 crore will be allocated for this project from 2019-20 to 2024-25, of which the central share will be Rs 53,000 crore. The funding for PMGSY-III is shared in the ratio of 60:40, between the centre and the state. For the Northeast and Himalayan states, the ratio is 90:10.
Worst performance in Northeast
In the 2019-20 fiscal, 50,097 km of roads were to be constructed under PMGSY across the country. But only 9,184 km has been completed so far. In 2018-19 again, 49,042 km of roads were constructed against the set target of 57,700 km.
None of the Northeast states has been able to complete even 50 per cent of the targets set under the phase I and II of PMGSY, documents accessed by ThePrint have revealed.
Among the Northeastern states, Arunachal Pradesh is the worst performer, completing just 7 per cent of its target, followed by Meghalaya (8 per cent) and Sikkim (9 per cent).
Arunachal Pradesh constructed only 57 km of roads against the target of 787 km, while Meghalaya constructed 43 km against the target of 530 km, and Sikkim built 26 km against 450 km.
Assam and Nagaland performed better, with both states completing 21 and 36 per cent of their targets, respectively. Assam constructed 484 km against the target of 2,280 km, while Nagaland built 61 km against a target of 168 km.
The documents also revealed that 3,316 km of road contracts for the eight Northeastern states are yet to be awarded. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur have the highest number of such contracts — 785 km, 753 km and 699 km, respectively.
Slow pace of road construction in Northeast
Northeastern states also witnessed slower pace of road construction, especially in the 2019-20 period as against the last fiscal. While Assam constructed 725 km of roads in 2018-19, 482 km were built in 2019-20.
The performance of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim under PMGSY similarly fell in the 2019-20 fiscal compared to the previous year. The state constructed 210 km in 2018-19, but only 58 km in the current fiscal. In Sikkim, only 26 km were built in 2019-20 against 117 km the year before.
Senior officers in the rural development ministry said construction got stuck in many Northeastern areas after contractors left work midway due to inadequate scrutiny provided by the respective state governments.
“Some states also released money to the contractors for whatever work they had done. A large number of contractors in these states have already received more than Rs 1 lakh as payment despite the fact that no inspection was done by the state quality monitor,” a senior rural development ministry official said.
The official added, “Maintenance policy, which is largely supervised by states, is also poor since only 14 per cent of roads which have been scheduled for maintenance after five years of their construction have been renewed.”
Fund crunch hits road construction in Jammu & Kashmir
The State Rural Roads Development Agency (SRRDA) of Jammu and Kashmir has been reeling under a huge fund deficit, which has impacted both construction and maintenance of roads, said official sources.
Till November 2019, only Rs 8.47 crore was credited in the account of SRRDA against the requirement of Rs 49.77 crore. The sources cited delay in sending expenditure proposals by Jammu and Kashmir as the reason behind fund deficit.
Only 1,451 km of road construction has been completed so far against the target of 8,113 km set in 2018. The targeted date of completion was March 2019.
Construction of 161 bridges in Jammu and Kashmir are pending too. Overall, contracts for 208 roads and 23 bridges, which add up to 1,720 km, remain unallocated in J&K, which ceased to be a state from 1 November 2019 after the Narendra Modi government took a decision on 5 August 2019 to scrap Article 370 and divide it into two union territories.