Kolkata: The Panchayats and Rural Development department is gearing up for construction of 8,000 km of rural roads. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will inaugurate the construction at a function on February 13.
Once construction work of the roads is completed, the rural connectivity in Bengal will reach a new height. The construction of rural roads will be carried out throughout the state. The state Panchayat and Rural Development department proposes to complete 35,000-odd rural roads by December 2019.
After coming to power, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave stress on construction of rural roads and from 2011 till now, over 13,571 km of rural roads connecting different villages with state or national highways have been constructed.
It may be recalled that during the Left Front regime, only 10,239 km of rural roads had been built from 2001 to 2011. During that period, the Centre used to fund the entire construction cost. From 2015-16, the Centre reduced its percentage and now it is providing 60 percent of the cost of construction.
The state government has to dish out 40 percent of the cost of construction, along with maintenance. The department has also started upgradation of the existing rural roads in West Midnapore, Jhargram, Bankura and Purulia.
The ground work for the construction of 8,000 km of rural roads is being carried out on a war footing. The tender has been floated in many cases while the work order to start construction is ready.
Once the Chief Minister gives clearance, the construction will start immediately. Never in the past had such monumental work in road construction been taken up by the Panchayats and Rural development department.
Senior officials of the department said the construction of rural roads has changed the scenario in rural Bengal. Now, in all the 341 blocks, new roads have been built and road connectivity has improved. As in many cases, concrete is being used to construct rural roads, their life will be more compared to asphalt ones.
The improvement of rural connectivity has improved the standard of living of the rural populace. Because of better roads, business has gone up in the rural belt. More state-run buses have been deployed along with private buses.
Because of road accessibility, the number of school dropouts has been reduced. Because of better road connectivity, many resorts and hotels have come up to promote eco tourism. Senior officials of Panchayats and Rural Development department said once the target of constructing 35,000 km of rural roads is achieved, the rural economic scenario will go up several times.