Kolkata: The Ministry of Rural Development has given Rs 69 crore to the state Panchayats and Rural Development department for excellent work in maintaining the roads under the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), also known as Bangla Gram Sadak Yojna, in the parlance of the state.
Maintenance of rural roads under the PMGSY is the state government's responsibility but the prize has still been given because of commendable initiatives from the department to maintain such roads.
Under PMGSY, the Centre gives 60 percent of total cost, the state government provides 40 and the maintenance of the roads is the responsibility of the state government.
It may be mentioned that before the Trinamool Congress government took over in 2011, the Centre used to fund 100 percent of the total cost but despite that, the then Left Front government had constructed only 10,000 km roads in the state.
The state government has prepared the Maintenance Policy of the Rural Roads that has prioritised the roads which are to be looked after according to necessity. This will also help the Finance department to keep funds ready that are to be spent for maintenance.
It may be mentioned that after coming to power in 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has given maximum stress on the construction of rural roads and their maintenance.
State minister for Panchayats and Rural Development department Subrata Mukherjee has made it clear that no compromise will be made in the construction of rural roads.
The Panchayats and Rural Development department has followed various new methods for construction of rural roads.
Bengal is the first state to use jute in the construction of rural roads. The National Jute Board had suggested the use of jute and agreed to give technical assistance as well. Jute is used above the surface of the soil in the proportion 724 gram per square meter (724 GSM/square meter).
Above the layer of jute, a layer of sand, around 1 inch thick, is laid. Already 90 km of rural roads have been completed where jute has been used. It was first used in Murshidabad followed by North Dinajpur. Now, work is on to construct 500 km rural roads where jute will be widely used. Taking the cue from Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and other state governments have also started to use jute in the construction of roads.
Cold Mix Technology is now being used. Bitumen emulsion is mixed with additives to prepare Cold Mix Binder which is then mixed with stone chips. The technology is eco-friendly and around 400 km roads can be laid per day against the tradition hot-mix method where only 200 km could be built in a day.
The department is also using steel slag, fly ash and attempts have been made to use waste plastic in the construction of rural roads.
Though the state government has severe fund crunch and has to pay Rs 48,000 crore to repay the Centre's loans, it is sheer planning that the flow of funds for maintenance of rural roads has never been affected.