Picture for representation (Image: Pexels)
The government will carry out a massive Rs 70,000 crore rural road-building project that will connect vegetable markets to nearby villages, according to a Business Standard report.
The report noted that the project would seek to build roads spanning 125,000 km, 40 percent of which would be funded by the States and the remaining by the Centre.
The improved connectivity is expected to allow for a smoother movement of produce, which would indirectly boost the income of farmers and improve the agricultural economy.
“Research has shown that good road connectivity in rural areas has much more impact on growth and poverty than even poverty alleviation programmes,” said Mahendra Dev, director of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research.
In order to complete this objective, not all the roads would be black-topped, which involves layering the road with asphalt. Instead, the roads would be lined with gravel, as these villages, which are thinly populated, would not require fully developed roads.
In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s last Independence Day speech, he promised connectivity to all villages, irrespective of the number of people inhabiting them. This promise trumped the policy which mandated connectivity to all villages on plains which had at least 500 people, and villages with at least 250 people in hilly areas.
The report also observed that by the time the Modi government had come to power in 2014, close to 178,184 homes were applicable to be connected through the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
By the end of the first term, close to 97 percent of these homes were connected with all-weather roads, with only 5,345 habitats yet to be covered in states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Odisha.