Road infrastructure plays a crucial role in economic development and as majority of the Indian population depends on roads, whether it is freight or passenger traffic, it becomes a necessity to boost the roadways network.
The Indian roads transport more than 60% of all goods and 85% of total passenger traffic. In this backdrop, it is important to have a strengthened road network and connect all regions, rural and urban.
In order to build robust road infrastructure in rural areas and give a major push to connectivity, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched in December 2000 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Under this scheme, rural road connectivity was given importance as it is a key component in development by promoting access to economic and social services and thereby generating increased agricultural incomes and productive employment opportunities in India.
Since its launch, the state governments and the Centre have been working to achieve complete connectivity in India. Over the years, the efforts to connect rural areas have increased. The pace of road construction stood at 133km per day under PMGSY in 2016-17. This year too, the budget allocation came as a major infrastructural boost. In Budget 2017-18, Rs 19, 000 crore were allotted towards PMGSY.
PMGSY, a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Rural Development, in the first quarter of the present fiscal saw construction of a total of 10,556 kms, clocking an average of 117.28 kms per day. The progress in terms of length constructed in the present financial year is 18.51% of the total annual target. Also, in the Q1 of the current fiscal, 2,543 habitations were provided connectivity, translating into 15.31% of the annual target.
Meanwhile, PMGSY has also focused on use of non-conventional construction materials, such as waste plastic, cold mix, fly ash, jute and coir geo-textiles, iron and copper slag, cell filled concrete, panelled cement concrete, etc, and ‘Green Technologies’ in PMGSY roads.
National highways are a backbone of road infrastructure and connectivity. India has been constructing highways at a rate of 27-28km per day, with the aim of speeding up the construction rate to 41km per day. With concentrated efforts, the roads network is set to become more robust and India is certainly on its way to become number 1 in the same direction.