Rural roadways infrastructure is the backbone of inclusive development, and its existence and quality is an indicator of the development status and potential of a region. Roads in India are the primary mode of mobilizing resources, be it food, consumables or other goods.
The road network in the country distributes products manufactured in one part to the rest and help make remote parts of the country accessible. Their construction comes with some significant environmental impacts as well, roads are known to be ecotones, and also a initiator of habitat fragmentation. But at least one of the several display boards by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) comes to the defense and clarifies, “We break mountains, to join hearts”.
The construction of a road into a remote region also paves the way for further development of that region through various means. Like most development activities, the processes and pathway of development needs to be checked and monitored for any adverse impacts.
It is also interesting to observe how a series of shops and the first houses come along the road, as it cuts through a new area which is otherwise thinly inhabited. Roads are therefore an absolute necessity in order to ensure an overall and sustainable development of India. Perhaps for this reason, the Central Government already has an initiative called the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in place, which aims towards laying down rural roads across India.
The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is a 100% Centrally sponsored scheme to provide road connectivity in the rural areas of the country. PMGSY envisages connectivity to all habitations with a population of 500 persons and above in the rural areas and about 250 persons and above in respect of the hilly states, tribal areas and desert areas through good and all weather roads. Now, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) has released grant in aid worth Rs. 130,00,00,000/- as part payment of first installment of Phase VII for construction of rural roads in the state of Assam under this PMGSY scheme.
This sum, of a hundred & thirty crores, is generated from the special window created in National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD) under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) as grants in aid to the Assam State Road Board (ASRB), Guwahati. ASRB is the executing agency for all work taken up under the PMGSY scheme in Assam state.
However, the state and the region already faces a challenge to implement policies and utilize funds in the best possible manner. There is now a political will at the Center, the funds are in place, so is the policy and plan of action. That the allotted funds do not face a similar fate will be a challenge for the Center and the State and something the people of the state should now wake up to.