New Delhi: Upgrading of rural roads will soon become a reality with the government today deciding to release funds after a gap of three years for enhancing the quality of these roads.
The release of funds for the upgrade under Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) was not taking place for the past three years as the government was giving priority for constructing new roads.
"Since 12 June 2009, upgrading proposals have been put on hold in order to give priority to give new connectivity. Today, we have reopened the upgrading window," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters in New Delhi.
However, he said the government will support both new connectivity as well as the upgrade of roads in 82 Naxal-affected districts of the country.
"We will entertain proposals from Assam (8,000 km), Bihar (5,000 km), Chhattisgarh (6,000 km), Gujarat (2,000 km), Jammu and Kashmir (3,000 km), Jharkhand (7,000 km), Kerala (800 km), Madhya Pradesh (roughly 3,000 km), Orissa (9,000 km), Punjab (2,000 km), Tamil Nadu (7,000 km), Uttar Pradesh (7,000 km), Uttarakhand (4,000 kms) and West Bengal (10,000 km)," he said.
The upgrading window was lying closed when Ramesh took over as the rural development minister last year and only habitations over 1,000 plus were being taken up for rural road construction under the programme.
"The first thing that was done was to remove this. Now all new connectivity of habitations of 500 in normal areas and over 250 in tribal areas and Naxal-affected areas are being considered (under the scheme)," he said.
According to Ramesh, five states including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana and Karnataka have already got sanction far than excess of their entitlement for the upgrade.
He also said that his ministry would soon launch the improved version of PMGSY - 2.0 making it as a joint programme of both Centre and states.
"PMGSY 2.0 is expected to cost Rs 59,000 crore over a five-year period. The Centre's share will be Rs 32,000 crore. It is not exactly 50:50 since there are some special category states where our share will be more than 50 percent. This will go to cabinet soon. Planning Commission has agreed," he said.