The expanse and the diversity India poses challenges for equitable development across all its parts. A major step in achieving this goal was initiated with the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in 2000.
The PMGSY was meant as a onetime special intervention to provide rural connectivity with “single allweather roads to eligible unconnected habitations of designated population as per Census 2001”.
Subsequently, PMGSY-II was launched in 2013 for upgradation of selected Through Routes and Major Rural Links (MRLs) with a target to upgrade 50,000 km in various states and Union Territories.
Through Routes, passing through a rural area, connect different regions or areas with roads, highways, railways, or digital communication infrastructure, like fibre optic cables.
A separate vertical
In 2016, Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA) was launched for the construction and upgradation of strategically important roads. It was a separate vertical under PMGSY to improve road connectivity in 44 worst affected LWE districts and some adjoining districts in nine states.
This was followed by the introduction of PMGSY-III in 2019, for the consolidation of 1,25,000 km Through Routes and Major Rural Links connecting regions to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), higher secondary schools, hospitals, among others.
Over time, improvement in road connectivity has made it easier for Government services like healthcare and education to reach rural communities; positively impacting the overall quality of life.
New growth avenues
The PMGSY has opened new avenues for economic growth. Small businesses have sprung up along these roads, creating job opportunities and contributing to the local economy. Farmers are now able to transport their produce to markets more efficiently, reducing wastage and thereby increasing their income.
However, like any large-scale programme, it encountered its share of challenges. Geographical hurdles – including rough terrain and adverse weather conditions – have sometimes posed difficulties in road construction.
One of the key strengths of PMGSY lies in its community-driven approach. The programme engages local communities in the planning and execution of road construction projects. This not only ensures that the roads are designed to meet the specific needs of the area but also fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility among the villagers.
Such involvement encourages the sustainable maintenance of these roads, ensuring their longevity and continued benefits. Over the years, PMGSY has achieved significant milestones, as shown in the report alongside.
These numbers highlight the sheer magnitude of the initiative and its impact on rural India. With improved road connectivity, previously isolated villages have been integrated into the broader socio-economic fabric of the country.
Now, the maintenance of these roads is an ongoing concern, requiring sustained efforts and resources. As technology and infrastructure continue to evolve, adapting PMGSY to incorporate newer developments will be crucial to its long-term success.
As India moves forward, the focus on rural development remains central to achieving inclusive growth. PMGSY has indeed added to the standards and the improvement of the lives of the country’s rural citizens.
PMGSY can be seen as a gamechanger in rural development. Beyond mere road construction, it also signifies a bridge to opportunity, progress, and empowerment.
Currently, the fund-sharing pattern of PMGSY is 60:40 between the Centre and states for all states except for the eight in the North East, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. For these states, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the fund sharing pattern is 90:10.
The funds for other Union Territories implementing PMGSY are fully provided by the Central Government.