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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Will Odisha meet the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) target of providing road connectivity to all habitations in 2019-20? It seems impossible.

Responding to a query on PMGSY progress in Odisha,  Rural Development Minister Susant Singh informed the house that as of now over 3, 323 villages have no road connectivity in the State.

A look at the PMGSY flagship scheme reveals that as many as 22,211 habitations in the State are eligible under the PMGSY-I. The State till June 2019 has provided all weather road connectivity to around 18,548 habitations. Still around 3,863 habitations are to be connected by concrete roads as per the target of PMGSY-I.

The State looks all set to miss the 2019 deadline of connecting all eligible habitations under PMGSY. Because, for Odisha, the Centre after taking into account State's capacity in laying PMGSY roads, has set a target of connecting only 1,098 habitations with all-weather roads under PMGSY in 2019-20.

One thing is crystal clear that the State at the current pace will meet the PMGSY - I target (3863 habitations) by end of 2022 only. For which, in proportion of unconnected to connected habitations, Odisha with 40 per cent unconnected habitations comes at the 6th among the bottom-10 States in the country.

As per minister Singh's reply, the State has till date constructed around 55, 066.44 km  road length under PMGSY-I. The pace of road construction in Odisha was very slow till 2015-16. The momentum picked up during 2016-19 as the State had laid a whopping 7,043 km of rural roads per year under the flagship scheme.

As per an analysis, the rate per day was at around 12 km vis-a-vis the national average of 91 km till 2015-16. For instance, in the early years of 12th Plan, Odisha could complete 22,250 km vis-a-vis 25,800 km by Bihar.

The pace picked up in 2017-18, when State had topped the country by virtue of constructing the maximum length of PMGSY roads.

The fallout was PMGSY-II implementation in Odisha got delayed. And similarly, with huge unconnected habitations it may affect the State's chances in availing the PMGSY-III, which was announced with enhanced fund in the Union Budget recently.  Under PMGSY-III, five per cent incentive will be given to best performing State. Therefore, the allocation for PMGSY-III will be of no utility for Odisha.

However, as per 2011 census, the number of rural habitations in Odisha are counted at over 1.41 lakh. As per minister's reply, since over 3, 323 villages are yet to be connected by all-weather roads, the total left out habitations sans all weather roads in Odisha then stand at over 10,500.


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