At a time when the government is pushing for higher capex, the length of rural roads constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has again fallen short of its target.
For instance, only 41 per cent of the target for April-September of FY23 could be completed during the stipulated period.
According to data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) of its latest Twenty Point Programme (TPP) progress report, only 9,753 km of roads could be constructed in the first six months of FY23.
The TPP report monitors over 50 different schemes and plans on a quarterly basis. The rural development scheme has been a laggard in the recent past, as it has been missing its targets for the April-September period since FY17.
Performance of a programme is considered “poor” by the NSO if the level of targets achieved is below 80 per cent.
During April-September 2016, the scheme achieved 96 per cent of its target, followed by completion of only 52 per cent of the works in the following year. During FY13 to FY15, the programme achieved above 100 per cent target for the first half.
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The worst performance of the scheme was during the first half of FY19 when only 3,379 km of roads (13 per cent) were constructed against a target of 26,246 km.
Currently in its third phase, PMGSY was launched as a centrally-sponsored scheme in 2000.
It was to provide all-weather road connectivity to unconnected areas in the country as part of a poverty-reduction strategy.
During the Budget for 2022-23, the Centre raised allocation to the programme by nearly 36 per cent to Rs 19,000 crore from Rs 15,000 crore in the previous year. This comes even as the programme’s spending has been below the budgeted amount in recent years.
According to a written reply filed by Union minister of state for rural development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti in the Lok Sabha last year, nearly 700,000 km of road (around 99 per cent of the sanctioned length) had been completed under the first and second phases of the scheme.
However, only 45,945 km of the targeted 125,000 km has been constructed in the third phase.
This phase focuses on consolidation of the rural road network to and from Gramin agricultural markets, higher secondary schools and hospitals.
The ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI) is tasked with monitoring 65 items under the TTP.
Of these, 17 are reported on a quarterly basis, and the others on an annual basis.
Besides construction of rural roads, the provision of revolving funds (61 per cent) and Community Investment Fund (44 per cent) to self-help groups (SHGs) also performed poorly during April-September.
Progress report for PMGSY (in KM)