The Narendra Modi government and the World Bank on Thursday signed a signed a $500 million (Rs 3,375 crore) loan agreement to provide additional funding to flagship Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, which aims to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages. The government aims to build 7,000 kms of climate resilient roads, of which 3,500 km will be constructed using green technologies, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
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. Now more rural communities will have access to better economic opportunities and social services,” Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs said.
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. “To support the rural economy and communities and households that depend on rural livelihoods, it will be critical to ensure that infrastructure is built and maintained to withstand climatic changes,” Junaid Ahmed, World Bank India director said.
In the Budget 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government will spend Rs 14.34 lakh crore in the rural areas 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.
In December 2017, during a review meeting of the scheme, the Rural Development Ministry had said that by then 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, the ministry had said.