The condition of roads in India, especially the rural ones, has always been substandard. Back in 2000, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government with the motive of connecting good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. The scheme saw some good progress and the lifestyle of several villagers began to change as new and upgraded roads began emerging even in places like Manipur.
However, under UPA-2, especially from 2011-12, the programme suffered several cutbacks. This was a major blow, but now, the Narendra Modi government has thankfully put PMGSY back on tracks while increasing its allocations significantly. About Rs 25,000 crore this year and Rs 27,000 crore the next year is being planned to pump into the project to bring it back to life.
Below, we have mentioned some important features of the PM Gram Sadak Yojana to help you better understand.
Objective: The primary goal of the PMGSY is to connect all eligible unconnected habitations with a population of 500 persons and above in the plain areas. The government of India has further approved the target of upgrading 50,000 km roads for all states and Union territory.
Quality control: A 3-tier Quality Control System has been designed to ensure the quality of the road works. The National Rural Roads Development Agency, an agency set up by the Ministry of Rural development, will be monitoring the development work and to inspect the quality of the road works on a regular basis. Furthermore, periodic inspections of works will be carried out by the Competent Supervisory Authorities of the Executing Agency.
Maintenance and Safety: This includes various aspects. To recognize and remove unsafe features and confer high priority to road safety. To make sure that potholes repairs, maintain surface texture and skid resistance are being done correctly and satisfactorily. To maintain shoulder so that vehicles can pull off in case of an emergency by securing sufficient side support to pavement and proper surface drainage.
The program will also make certain that signs, road markings, reflectors, guide posts, kilometer posts, guardrails will be serviced regularly. It also entails that vegetation must be constantly trimmed so that it does not obstruct signs and visibility, or make rural footpaths unutilized.
Core Network: A Core Network is that nominal network of road or routes that is crucial to providing adequate access to vital social and economic services to all eligible Unconnected Habitations in the chosen areas through at least a single all-weather road (one which is negotiable in all seasons of the year) connectivity. Close to 1.67 lakh Unconnected Habitations are eligible for coverage under the programme. This includes construction of about 3.71 lakh km. of roads for New Connectivity and 3.68 lakh km. under up-gradation.
Road safety: Road safety – especially of rural roads – will be of paramount importance in the PM Gram Sadak Yojana. Since this program covers essential Through Routes and Major Rural Links supposed to carry high volume of traffic, traffic, road safety shall be established through road safety audit at the design stage, during execution and after completion of the project.
Importantly, specific attention will be given on rectifying geometrical defects of old roads while formulating the detailed project report. Furthermore, road user communities will be built up to assist maintenance and safety intervention. Lastly, there will be application and collaboration of rural road safety awareness programmes in the field and the Panchayat Raj Institutions will themselves be involved in this.
Selection of Through/ Link routes: The programme aims to select through and link routes with the aim of identification of rural growth centers and other critical rural hubs and rural places of significance that would be in cooperative interaction with State Livelihoods Missions.
Through routes are the ones which collect traffic from several link roads or a long chain of Habitations and lead it to Marketing centres either directly or through the higher category roads. While Link Routes are the roads connecting a single Habitation or a group of Habitations to Through Routes or District Roads leading to Market Centres. The programme intends to strengthen the rural road network through the up-gradation of these major links and through routes.
Bridges also to be renovated as an essential part of the Programme.
Building 350 railway bridges and level crossings also on the pipeline.
Road safety to be a vital element in each project.
Enhancing the accident reporting and analysis system.
Ensuring Quality Standards in construction.
Five-year maintenance with the same contractor.
To build 30 km of highway per day by 2016-17.
Plans for a 2,000 km project to connect underdeveloped areas in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh , Gujarat and Rajasthan to the national highway network underway.
Full funding of construction cost by the Central Govt.
Clearly, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, in its new revamped avatar, can be a breakthrough achievement by the current government. India is in dire need of maintaining and connecting its rural roads properly throughout the country. Hopefully, with its successful implementation, the PM Gram Sadak Yojana will be able to achieve that in the coming years.