The government of India and World Bank signed (May 31) a $500 million (Rs 3,375 crore) loan agreement to provide additional funding to flagship Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGAY). The objective of the PMGAY is to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. Under the scheme, the government aims to build 7,000 kms of climate resilient roads, of which 3,500 km will be constructed using green technologies. It is not new that the World Bank has offered funds for infrastructure development in India. In fact the World Bank has funded the rural road scheme since 2004 and so far has invested over $1.8 billion in loans and credits. The additional finance will bring a new shift in construction technology using green and low carbon designs and climate resilient construction techniques.
According to the Rural Development Ministry, by December 2017, more than 82% of the habitations in the country had been connected with all-weather roads under the PMGSY. About 1.31 lakh habitations were connected under the PMGSY and another 14,620 habitations were connected through various programmes of the state governments, together accounting for 82% of the target.
Pointing towards importance of road making and maintenance in India, Junaid Ahmed, World Bank India director said that it was important to build and maintain infrastructure to support the rural economy and communities and households that depend on rural livelihoods. The government said that the maintenance of the existing 4.6 million km of the road network is emerging as a major challenge. Climate-induced events such as floods, high rainfall, sudden cloudbursts and landslides end up damaging roads, especially in rural areas. In view of the problem of rural connectivity, the Budget 2018, allocated Rs 14.34 lakh crore for rural development in the year 2018-19 to generate employment and develop infrastructure. The Budget outlay also included the construction of 3.17 lakh km of roads. The allocation for the PMGSY was Rs 19,000 crore for 2018-19.
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