The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched on December 25, 2000, with the objective of providing single, all-weather road connectivity to all eligible unconnected habitations of the designated population size (more than 500 in plain areas, more than 250 in the north-eastern and the Himalayan states) in rural areas of country.
According to the Economic Survey 2021, the first two phases of the PMGSY have been mostly completed, and the third phase has been launched with a target allocation of 0.13 million km all-weather road connectivity. The scheme has helped immensely in providing access to basic services and lifting the income of rural masses.
Budget allocations have been a mainstay in financing rural infrastructure. The central government allocated Rs 275 billion to the PMGSY under the Union Budget 2021-22, which is about 32 per cent less than the revised budgetary allocation in 2020-21. Reportedly, a total expenditure of Rs 1.12 trillion, including the share of states, is likely to be incurred from 2021-22 to 2024-25 for completion of all the ongoing works under the programme.
In November 2021, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a proposal for the continuation of PMGSY I and II up to September 2022 for completion of the remaining road and bridge works. The CCEA has also approved the continuation of the Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA) scheme till March 2023. The RCPLWEA was started in 2016 to improve connectivity in 44 LWE-affected districts in nine states. About 5,700 km of road length and 358 bridges are yet to be completed, and another 1,887 km of road length and 40 bridges have been sanctioned.
Progress so far
During the three-year period from 2016-17 to 2018-19, the road length constructed under the PMGSY increased at a compound annual growth rate of about 1.7 per cent. However, it declined in 2019-20, then again witnessed growth in 2020-21. The year 2018-19 witnessed the completion of 49,007 km of roads, the highest in the past five years. Also, the pace of construction of PMGSY roads reached 134 km per day in 2018-19, against an average of 115 km per day during 2016-17 and 2020-21.
As of December 2021, around 89 per cent of the 762,990 road/bridge works sanctioned under the PMGSY have been completed. Further, around 99 per cent of the 172,769 eligible unconnected habitations have already been connected.
The majority of pending works under PMGSY I and II are in the north-eastern and hill states due to the Covid-19 lockdown, extended rains, winters and forest issues.
In 2019, the central government launched PMGSY III to consolidate 125,000 km of road length by March 2025. So far, around 72,000 km of road length has been sanctioned under PMGSY III, out of which 17,750 km has been completed.
PMGSY III involves consolidating routes and major rural links connecting habitations to gramin (rural) agricultural markets, higher secondary schools and hospitals. It also involves maintenance of the roads constructed under the scheme.
This will entail an estimated cost of Rs 802.5 billion for the period 2019-20 to 2024-25. The funds will be provided jointly by the centre and the states in the ratio of 60:40. The ratio is 90:10 for eight north-eastern states and the Himalayan states.
Substantial efforts have been made in the development of systems and adoption of new technologies for planning, construction, monitoring and maintenance of rural roads under the PMGSY. These include online monitoring systems and mobile-based applications, e-tendering, and geographic information systems. In addition, efforts are on to use geoinformatics in rural road projects.
The PMGSY promotes the use of new and green technology in the construction of rural roads. Further, to promote cost-effective and speedy construction, locally available materials are used in road construction. So far, more than 0.1 million km of road length has been taken up using new and green technology, out of which more than 61,000 km has been completed. Uttar Pradesh has recently sanctioned 1,255 km of road length for construction using full depth reclamation technology, which will not only save cost and time in a big way but will also conserve natural resources and reduce the carbon footprint.
Going ahead, the PMGSY envisages a three-tier quality assurance mechanism to ensure the quality of road works during construction and post-construction. The number of quality monitors, both at the central and state levels, as well as the intensity of the inspections have been increased for better quality of management. The proportion of satisfactory works has witnessed an upward trend in recent years.
Efforts have been made to develop and use new technologies for the construction and monitoring of rural roads under the PMGSY. These new technologies need to be cost-effective and sustainable for faster adoption across the rural region. In addition, the government is encouraging the use of innovative green technologies and has put in place stringent monitoring and feedback mechanisms to ensure on-time completion of targets.