September 30, 2020

PAC punches holes in PM rural plan implementation

New Delhi: The high profile Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament, has punched holes in the implementation of the Centre’s flagship scheme — Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY or rural roads programme) — by noting discrepancies like unconnected habitations in rural areas having been shown as connected and non inclusion of eligible habitations by as many as 19 states.

The committee headed by Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge has also found that in an astounding 26 states, around 4,500 projects were delayed by one month to 129 months owing to land disputes, lack of forest clearances, delay in getting permission for mining operations and paucity of funds among host of other reasons.

Also in seven states 73 rural road projects were shown as executed and completed without providing complete connectivity to the targetted habitations.

The panel which evaluates performance audit of all government departments as well as their schemes and initiatives, while scrutinising PMGSY’s financial performance, found that 19 states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, J&K, Jharkhand, Kerala and Rajasthan among others reported discrepancies like unconnected habitations being shown as connected.

Also eligible habitations (which should be connected as per the norms of PMGSY) were not even included by the aforementioned states, while several habitations were found to be placed in wrong population size.

PMGSY was launched by the erstwhile NDA regime led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in December 2000.

It was further observed by the Parliamentary panel that in seven states namely Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and West Bengal, 73 road works were executed and shown as completed without providing complete connectivity to the targetted habitations due to lack of required land, non-clearance by railways, non-construction of required bridges, among several other reasons.

Importantly out of this, 72 road works were executed at a cost of Rs 120 crore.

In fact the committee has regretfully noted that this was an “instance of casual and lackadaisical attitude displayed by the Rural Development Ministry in implementing PMGSY”.

Making a pointed observation, the panel went on to note that the Union Ministry has “neither spelt out the reasons for the same (aforementioned lapses), nor they have apprised the committee about the action taken against the states for these lapses”.

In addition to this, the panel went on to point out that in 17 states including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar and Odisha, joint inspections of PMGSY works with public representatives were not carried out during 2010-11 to 2014-15 (the period for which the audit performance was conducted).

PMGSY was launched by the erstwhile NDA regime led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in December 2000 with the aim of providing single all-weather road connectivity to all eligible unconnected habitations in rural areas with population of 1,000 persons and above by 2003 and all unconnected habitations with the population of 500 persons (in hilly and tribal regions) by 2007.

When the Congress-led UPA regime came to power in 2004, it brought PMGSY under its umbrella of social schemes called ‘Bharat Nirman’. Under it, rural roads connectivity to both kinds of habitations was prioritised by 2009.

In 2013, PMGSY-II was launched by UPA-II regime for upgrading existing selected routes and main rural links. Currently the NDA government is running PMGSY-II simultaneously with the original PMGSY.

Courtesy: The Asian Age

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