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Govt gives in to Maoists, opts for kutcha sadak

The government has come with a new road building plan in the Maoist-hit districts across nine states, which betrays its inability to control the the ultra Left groups. With these groups often blowing up roads used by security forces, the government on Tuesday said there was no compulsion to lay tar-paved roads in such areas. This change in strategy is being viewed as the government conceding defeat.

‘We are having problems with connectivity in the Naxal-hit districts because Naxals blow coal tar top roads. The Maoists are not against kutcha sadak. Under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) you give money only for one blacktop road. Now we plan to have four roads in a village of which one will be a blacktop road and remaining kutcha sadak,’ said Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh. This change in strategy comes in the wake of Ramesh recently visiting 41 of the 82 naxal affected districts.

The minister also said the government has not insisted on blacktop roads from day one and construction of PMGSY roads can be broken up into two stages A and B, where stage A is not blacktop. According to this new decision, states can prepare Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) in two stages. ‘States can take up construction of formation, construction of gravel-base as well as slope stabilisation, protection works under stages A and B, which would include bituminous or concrete surfacing,’ said Ramesh.

The minister, however, showed concern over PMGSY works being implemented at a slow pace in the Naxal-affected districts. ‘There are 52,000 habitations in 82 districts with a population of 250 plus; those have to be connected. We have sanctioned PMGSY projects for 30,000 habitations and out of the 30,000 habitations, only 19,000 have been connected,’ rued Ramesh.

Meanwhile, a recent newspaper report says that with less than two months to go for the closure of the current financial year, the national highway construction rate has come down to three kilometres each day during the last six months.

In 2012-13, 2,100 kilometre roads were built but in the last six months just about 600 kilometres were added. This is the lowest rate of road construction in the last one decade.
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