PMGSY not a permanent solution: Ramesh

Mumbai: Building roads in the rural areas is the job of the state governments, and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) could not be a long-term solution to the problem of lack of roads, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said here today.

"If the central government focused on construction of rural roads and their repairs and maintenance, then it will have no money to spend on creating other infrastructure," the minister said, adding that "we have to recognise its limitations".

Ramesh inaugurated a seminar on `engendering physical infrastructure via PMGSY` here this morning. He stated that as the central government schemes are devised at the national level, there is no scope of variation to fit the local needs.

Though PMGSY was conceptualised ten years ago, the actual implementation started only six years ago, he said. "State governments are asking for funds for repairs and maintenance of PMGSY roads, and at the same time they raise a cry about federal structure," he said, in a veiled dig at the states who have opposed the proposed counter-terrorism centre.

Ramesh said 50 per cent of the rural development funds will be given to the state governments by the end of the 12th five year plan, so that the spending could be as per the states` own priorities.

The Union Minister also said that PMGSY was an asset, it had benefited everybody, including the women.

PMGSY is for the villages which have population of 500 or more. Ramesh said that states such as Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra had launched similar schemes to connect habitations which have less population, which was a welcome step.

He also said that he was considering extending the benefit of pension for widows to those in under-40 age group, as "widows in the age group of less than 40 are among the most unprivileged". Currently, only those in 40-49 age group are eligible.