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India’s Road Programmes Don’t Always Go Places

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The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) or rural roads programme and the Bharat Nirman or rural infrastructure scheme are `flagship’ programmes of the Union Government. Since both schemes fund rural roads, IndiaSpend’s Sourjya Bhowmick examines the outlays that were committed and the outcome so far.

 

The PMGSY was launched in December, 2000 to provide all-weather rural road connectivity. It was decided that all habitations with a population of 500 persons or above in the plain areas and 250 persons or above in hilly, tribal and desert areas will be connected. It was also decided that 1,67,000 unconnected habitations were to be covered involving the construction of 3,70,000 kilometre (km) of roads and up gradation of another 368,000 km.

 

All these were later revised in 2005 when a new scheme Bharat Nirman – a broader rural infrastructure initiative – was introduced. Bharat Nirman has rural road connectivity as an important component. Bharat Nirman itself set a target of connecting 63,940 habitations and upgrading 1,90,000 km of existing roads.

 

Bharat Nirman Allocations

 

Since its inception the total amount allocated for the programme is Rs 93,726 crore. The following table gives us an idea of how much this scheme gets every year.

 

Allocation To Bharat Nirman Over Last Decade

 

Budget Year Budgeted Amount (Rs In Crores)
2012-2013 21,699
2011-2012 18,217
2010-2011 10,866
2009-2010 10,933
2008-2009 7,075
2007-2008 6,110
2006-2007 4,853
2005-2006 3,809
2004-2005 2,219
2003-2004 2,090
2002-2003 2,230
2001-2002 2,500
2000-2001 1,125

 

Source: IndiaBudget.nic.in

 

Apart from Government funds, the PMGSY is also aided externally by agencies like World Bank, Asian Development Bank. In the year 2011-2012, for instance, the total funding crossed Rs 20,000 crore which included an aid of Rs 2,211 crore from these two agencies.

 

The Economy Survey, preceding the Union Budget also highlights the achievements of the PMGSY on a per year basis. Till the year 2009 around 250,554 km of roads completed at a cost of Rs 59,800 crore. According to the PMGSY master plan (370,000 km to be constructed) it means another 120,000 km of rural roads need to be built.

 

70,000 km Of Roads Yet To Be Covered

 

Now, the Economic Survey of 2010 and 2011 speaks of another 28,963 km and 19,443 km (48,406 km in all) that were completed in each of these years. So, adding the 250,554 km until 2009 and the construction in 2010 and 2011, the total comes to 298,000 km of constructed rural roads. It would thus appear that around 70,000 km of rural roads remain to be constructed under the PMGSY.

 

Now let’s look at habitations covered. A Rural Development Ministry document says that 73,651 habitations were connected upto November, 2010. The Economic Survey speaks of 3,710 habitations being covered last year. Thus, upto December 2011, 77,361 habitations are connected. As we mentioned earlier, the original target was 167,000 habitations under PMGSY. So a meagre 46% is achieved till the end of last year.

 

Now, how has Bharat Nirman, the new scheme, performed? As per Government of India’s own Outcome Budget released on March 27, this is where it stands:

 

Performance Of Bharat Nirman

 

Target Achievement ( Upto Dec 2011)
Unconnected Habitations To Be Covered 63,940* 42,249
Road Length to Be Constructed 1,91,820 1,35,470

 

* The Bharat Nirman document says that it is 66,802.

 

It is evident that there is a deficit of 21,691 in the habitations that need to be covered and a shortage of 56,350 km that were to be constructed. The Bharat Nirman has a proposed investment of Rs 48,000 crore and the target was meant to be achieved by 2009 (later revised to 2012).

 

Measuring Impact Of PMGSY

 

How does one measure the combined impact (where there is) of schemes like PMGSY and Bharat Nirman ? A Planning Commission report published in October, 2011 analyses the utilisation of funds of various flagship programmes of the Union Government. The report stressed that utilisation should be effectively compared against the releases and not the allocation.

 

The report observes, quite interestingly that almost all the states are a champion when it comes to utilisation of funds. Most of the states have utilised more than 100%, with West Bengal’s utilisation being the best in 2009-2010.

 

The problem lies elsewhere and finds mention in a performance audit report of the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG). It highlights that with the efficiency of road construction has little to do with the fact that the roads actually lead somewhere.

 

This CAG report says that in 14 states around 143 works remained incomplete after spending around Rs 44 crore. In 12 states, 149 works costing Rs 55 crore were abandoned due to issues like land disputes, roads constructed by other agencies or surprisingly enough rural connectivity already existed.

 

More highlights:

 

  • Rs 17 crore spent on providing connectivity to 269 habitations, having population less than 250 during 2000-2005, violating programme guidelines.
  • Rs 10 crore incurred for connecting habitations which are already connected.
  • Rs 16 crore for upgradation of existing roads in those districts where unconnected habitations still exists.
  • Funds amounting to Rs 312 crore were diverted to unauthorised deposits and spent on making undue payments to contractors.
  • Work executed without Rural Roads Manual eventually led to an additional expenditure of Rs 168 crore.

 

In all the CAG reports in the years 2000-2005 summarized that the main inefficiencies laid in delay, non- adherence to objective to contractual issues. The amounts mentioned in the CAG reports are nothing compared to the amount that gets budgeted every year and there are numerous instances of money not used well in the CAG reports.

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