Kolkata: The state Panchayats and Rural Development department will construct and upgrade a stretch of 2,826 km of rural roads for which the Centre has given its go-ahead. The estimated cost will be around Rs 1,501 crore.
It may be mentioned that the Centre has given sanctions to construct 20,589 km stretch since 2011. Of the sanctioned amount, the Panchayats and Rural Development department has constructed 13,800 km road in the past six-and-a-half years.
Earlier, the Centre used to fund cent percent of the estimated cost of rural roads while state governments used to look after their maintenance. Now, the Centre contributes only 60 percent of the estimated cost, while state governments pay the remaining 40 percent and look after the maintenance. Thus, the state governments have to dish out a huge amount of money for the construction and maintenance of rural roads. It may be recalled that the erstwhile Left Front government, which always boasted of rural development in Bengal, had constructed only 13,000 km of road between 2000 and 2011.
The new roads will be constructed in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura along with the upgradation of the existing roads.
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 as the erstwhile Left Front government had practically done nothing in this front.
The construction of rural roads has improved the economic condition of rural Bengal. Even the remotest hamlets have been connected with the main thoroughfare now. In 2013-14 and 2014-15, the Panchayats and Rural Development department was the first in connecting the remotest rural part with the mainland in the country. In 2016-17, its rank is third in the country.
Anyone visiting rural Bengal now witnesses a major change in connectivity. Many new roads have been built with concrete and because of repeated checks the contractors do not get any chance to compromise with the quality of the roads. The economic condition of the villages has experienced a sea change. One can reach the remotest parts of the rural areas by roads. As a result, many rural areas have become important tourist spots with hotels, resorts and motels coming up in recent times. Potholes, dusty and muddy roads in rural Bengal are now a thing of the past.
Subrata Mukherjee, state minister for Panchayats and Rural Development said: "Because of the construction of rural roads, the condition of the villages has undergone major changes in the past six-and-a-half-years and the economic health of the people has improved to a great extent."