Rural roads connectivity in India to get a fillip

By Kirtiman Awasthi
Published: Tuesday 31 October 2006

-- (Credit: Shyamal / CSE)rural roads connectivity under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (pmgsy) is set to get another boost. On September 21, the Union cabinet approved an amendment to the Central Road Fund (crf) Act, 2000, allowing the money under crf to be used for construction of rural roads under pmgsy.

Earlier, on September 20, prime minister Manmohan Singh reviewed the progress of Bharat Nirman, which envisages electricity, all-weather roads, potable water and telephones for all villages in the country by 2009. According to Union rural development minister, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, the cabinet looked into the need for additional funds to bridge the gap in funding targets of the rural roads component of the scheme. The amendment has been cleared to source Rs 16,500 crore for a rural roads programme under Bharat Nirman. In the present situation, the crf Act does not allow the use of cess funds for rural roads. The crf (Amendment) Bill, 2006, will allow the National Rural Roads Development Agency (nrrda) to borrow funds from a new window under National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (nabard) and repayment of the principal and interest from crf.

The money will not be given directly for the construction of rural roads. The nrrda, under the Union ministry of rural development, which is responsible for implementing pmgsy, will borrow money from nabard , acting as a special agency of the ministry. A separate window is proposed under the Rural Infrastructural Window Fund.

"An estimated investment of Rs 48,000 crore is required to connect all habitation with a population of more than 1,000 (500 in case of hilly and tribal areas) with all-weather roads by 2009 under the Bharat Nirman Programme. This will facilitate connectivity to 66,802 habitation with the construction of 146,185 km of new roads and 116,478 km by upgradation," said Singh during the review meeting.

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