Understanding that connectivity plays a vital role in the economic prosperity and poverty reduction, the Modi Government kickstarted India’s road building mission with an ambitious and exacting daily target of several kilometres of newly built roads.
After achieving satisfactory results during its first tenure, the Modi government is all set to announce a Rs 70,000 crore road building project over the next five years, linking villages with nearby mandis (local markets) to boost the rural economy.
According to officials, this would require the construction of over 1,25,000 kilometres of roads and would form part of the third phase of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
Moreover, officials added that 40 per cent of the cost would be borne by the State governments, while the remaining 60 per cent will be taken care of by the Central government.
“Several villages and rural areas do not have proper road connectivity with mandis which hinders the smooth movement of farm produce and impacts incomes. Having good road connectivity will indirectly boost farmers’ income,” a senior official said, adding that “Within villages work is already on by state governments to build cement roads with proper drainage facilities.”
Moreover, keeping up to one of its key promises in the election manifesto, that is the promise of roads in even the smallest and remotest hamlet, the Modi government is also planning to connect all villages with roads, irrespective of the villages’ size or population, before the Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech on August 15.
This will mark a departure from the policy to date under which roads connected all houses in villages with more than 500 persons in the plains and more than 250 persons in hilly areas.
Officials confirmed that, in order to connect all villages, the Centre might, instead of relying on the general norm since 2000 of ‘black-topping’ the roads, use gravel or similar material as sparsely populated villages may not need a fully developed road.
In 2014, when Modi came to power, around 178,184 eligible and feasible habitations remained unconnected with all-weather roads under PMGSY-1 which were started in the year 2000 under the UPA government. However, by the end of Modi’s first term, more than 97 per cent of these homes were connected with rural roads.
Only around 5,345 habitations in states such as Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha and some Naxalite-affected regions remained unconnected.
However, in 2017, in an effort to expedite development push in Red corridor also, the Centre had decided to spend a whopping Rs 11,000 crore for providing road connectivity to 44 Maoist-affected districts, including Chhattisgarh’s Sukma.
“In the next five years, these 5,345 habitations under PMGSY-1 will also get connected,” confirmed the official having knowledge about the same.
In addition to this, the Modi government also plans to build 5,000 kilometres of roads by 2022 in areas which have been already identified by the Home Ministry. Moreover, in the next five years, around 18,000 kilometres of roads built under the initial phases of PMGSY will now be widened and strengthened.
“But rural roads built so far can only be widened and strengthened in those states where 97 per cent road construction has been completed in the first phase,” said the official.
The Modi government has got down to serious business the minute it took the oath for its second tenure. Recently, Union Minister of Agriculture, Radha Mohan Singh elaborated on the steps that had been taken to improve the affairs of the agricultural sector by Modi government 2.0. Singh reaffirmed the government’s commitment toward doubling farmers’ income.
Moreover, Modi himself, on June 20, interacted with farmers across the country via the NaMo app and reasserted his government’s commitment to its goal for India’s agriculture sector of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
Recently, Minister of Commerce and Industries, Suresh Prabhu had also announced that the UAE and Saudi Arabia had decided to use India to address their food security concerns and that the two countries were looking to invest in the agricultural sector in India. He had further stated that the NDA government has removed restrictions on organic and processed products which will benefit Indian farmers who are looking for a higher price for their products.