1.1 VILLAGE CONNECTIVITY IN INDIA
India has essentially a rural-oriented economy with 74 per cent of its population living in its villages. At the commencement of PMGSY in 2000, it was estimated that about 330,000 out of its 825,000 villages and habitations were without any all-weather road access. A majority of the poorly connected rural communities lie in ten States (Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal).
1.2. CURRENT PLANS FOR RURAL CONNECTIVITY: PMGSY
1.2.1 PMGSY: Programme Goals
Rural Road connectivity is a key component of rural development by promoting access to economic and social services and thereby generating increased agricultural incomes and productive employment opportunities. It is also a key ingredient in ensuring poverty reduction.
It was against this background of poor connectivity
that the Prime Minister announced in 2000, a massive rural roads programme. The
Prime Minister’s Rural Road Programme (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, PMGSY)
set a target of: Achieving all-weather road access to every village/habitation
with a population greater than 1000 by 2003
Providing all-weather road access to all villages/habitations of population
greater than 500 people [250 in case of hill States (North-Eastern states,
Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttaranchal), the desert areas
and tribal areas] by the end of the Tenth Five Year Plan, i.e., 2007
Achieving all-weather road access to every village/habitation with a population greater than 1000 by 2003
Providing all-weather road access to all villages/habitations of population greater than 500 people [250 in case of hill States (North-Eastern states, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttaranchal), the desert areas and tribal areas] by the end of the Tenth Five Year Plan, i.e., 2007
1.2.2. Noteworthy Features of the PMGSY
The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) has been entrusted with the task of organising the programme. Some of the noteworthy features of the programme are:
1.3 RESOURCES FOR IMPLEMENTING PMGSY
It is estimated that the total investment required to meet the new connectivity targets is of the order of Rs 79,000 crores with another Rs. 53,000 crore required to upgrade existing rural roads to prescribed standards. In 1999, a one-rupee cess on every litre of diesel and petrol sold was imposed by the Government of India (GoI), and in 2000, a Central Road Fund Act was promulgated to direct the resources obtained through this cess to the improvement of National and State Highways as well as Rural Roads. By law, 50% of the diesel cess is required to be directed towards rural road development. This amounts to about Rs 2,500 crores (US $ 500 million) per year. An additional cess of 50 paise per litre of diesel sold, provided in the Budget for 2003-04, is likely to yield another Rs. 1,250 crores/year. Additional fund requirements are likely to be met through both internal and external borrowings.
1.4 NEED FOR THE OPERATIONS MANUAL
The Indian Roads Congress (IRC) have brought out a Rural Roads Manual (RRM) (IRC: SP: 20-2002), which provides technical guidance on various aspects of rural road development. The requirements of PMGSY were specially kept in view when drafting this document. The NRRDA and MoRD have also issued several guidelines and instructions to the implementing agencies. It was, therefore, considered appropriate to bring out an Operations Manual (OM) in respect of PMGSY, to provide a systematic, comprehensive easily accessible set of operational instructions on the programme. Provisions of the Manual may be used by States for other rural roads also, with suitable adaptations. It is hoped that the OM will bring about clarity on various aspects of the programme, ensuring its timely and successful implementation. The contents of the Manual will be reviewed and revised according to the experiences gained during implementation.
The OM fully covers the PMGSY programme. It will be mandatory on the part of the State implementing agencies to follow the OM in every respect. Under the PMGSY, District Programme Implementation Units (DPIUs) have been set up. The OM is specifically targeted to these DPIUs. Since the OM embodies various instructions issued earlier, it supersedes such instructions. Where the OM refers to certain clauses of the IRC Rural Roads Manual, such clauses shall prevail. The Accounts Code and Works Manual of the States shall continue to be used, and if provisions in the OM are at variance with these, the attention of the NRRDA must be drawn and specific directions obtained.
1.5 KEY DEFINITIONS
Rural Roads All-Weather Roads
Rural Roads cover the categories earlier known as “Other District Roads” (ODRs) and “Village Roads” (VRs). Other District Roads are roads serving the rural areas of production and providing them with outlet to market centres, Block, taluka/ tehsil headquarters or main roads. Village Roads are roads connecting villages and group of villages with each other or to the market centres and with the nearest road of higher category.
An all-weather road is one which is negotiable during all weathers, with some permitted interruptions. Essentially this means that at cross-drainage structures, the duration of overflow or interruption at one stretch shall not exceed 12 hours for ODRs and 24 hours for VRs in hilly terrain, and 3 days in the case of roads in plain terrain. The total period of interruption during the year should not exceed 10 days for ODRs and 15 days for VRs.
The pavement should be negotiable during all-weathers, but this does not necessarily imply that it should be paved or sealed or blacktopped.
Fair-weather Roads are those not satisfying the minimum requirements specified for all-weather roads. These roads could be taken to be in a stage of development to be upgraded to all-weather type.
Unpaved and Paved roads
Unpaved or Unsealed roads vary from ‘clay’ roads, which can only serve dry-season light traffic to heavy-duty crushed rock industrial roads which can serve heavy traffic. Typically, such roads are used for providing rural access, carrying an average of 20 to 100 vehicles per day. The base course of such roads is made from local materials e.g., natural gravels and generally using well-tried traditional methods of construction. In sustained wet weather, the unsealed roads may develop deficiencies such as rutting and potholing. On the other hand, in dry seasons, such unsealed roads can become dusty and develop corrugations. Paved or Sealed Roads are those which are rendered waterproof and dust-proof by a surfacing or base-cum-surfacing of bituminous materials or cement concrete.
The unit for this Programme is a habitation and not a revenue village or Panchayat. A habitation is a cluster of dwellings, in an area, the location of which does not change over time. Desam, Dhanis, Tolas, Majras, Hamlets etc. are commonly used terminology to describe the habitations. The population of all habitations within a radius of 500m (1.5 km of path distance in case of hills) may be clubbed together for the purpose of determining the population size. This cluster approach would enable provision of connectivity to a large number of habitations, particularly in the hill/ mountainous areas.
The population size of the habitation shall be based on the population as recorded in Census 2001. The District Rural Road Plans and Core Network shall be drawn up/ revised on this basis.
The criterion of accessibility when any village/ habitation is deemed to have been connected by a rural road is generally the permissible maximum distance of the habitation from an existing all-weather road facility or from an already connected habitation. This permissible maximum distance has been kept at 500m for the plain areas and 1.5km of path distance in case of hills for the PMGSY. The unconnected habitations are to be connected to nearby habitations already connected by an all-weather road or to another existing all-weather road so that services (educational, health, marketing facilities etc.) which are not available in the unconnected habitation become available to the residents.
District Rural Roads Plan (DRRP)
The DRRP is long-term plan of road network in a district, showing the existing road network, the habitations of various population size and roads proposed for connecting the yet unconnected habitations to already connected habitations/ all-weather roads in an economic and efficient way in terms of cost and utility. It is also known as the Master Plan for Rural Roads for the district.
The rural road network required for providing the ‘basic access’ to all villages/ habitations is termed as the Core Network. Basic access is defined as one all-weather road access from each village/ habitation to the nearby Market Centre or Rural Business Hub (RBH) and essential social and economic services.
A Core Network comprises of Through Routes and Link Routes. Through routes are the ones which collect traffic from several link roads or a long chain of habitations and lead it to a market centre or a higher category road, i.e. the District Roads or the State or National Highways. Link Routes are the roads connecting a single habitation or a group of habitations to Through Roads or District Roads leading to Market Centres. Link Routes generally have dead ends terminating on habitations, while Through Routes arise from the confluence of two or more Link Routes and emerge on to a major road or to a Market Centre.
The Core Network may not represent the most convenient or economic route for all purposes. However, since studies show 85-90% of rural trips are to market centres, the Core Network is likely to be a cost-effective conceptual frame work for investment and management purposes, particularly in the context of scarce resources.
Market Centres/Rural Business Hubs (RBH)
Market Centres or Rural Business Hubs (RBH) are centres of activities for marketing of agricultural produce and inputs, servicing of agricultural implements, health, higher education, postal, banking services etc. They are generally habitations with a large population, located on higher category of roads or at the confluence of roads emanating from a number of habitations. They can be identified from data available from published census records, information available from Marketing Boards and local enquiry. The villagers should be able to go to the nearby Market Centre and come back the same day. The maximum distance between a village and a Market Centre would normally not be more than 15-20 km. In some cases, a Market Centre may not be fully developed at present, but a big village may have potential for developing into a Market Centre or Rural Business Hub (RBH). Such villages also need to be identified as potential Market Centres or Rural Business Hubs (RBH).
1.6. PROGRAMME OBJECTIVES
1.6.1. New Connectivity
The primary objective of the PMGSY is to provide connectivity, by way of an all-weather road (defined in para 1.5 earlier) to the eligible unconnected habitations in rural areas generally so as to enable access to the nearest market centre, in such a way that:
The spirit and objective of PMGSY is to provide good all-weather road connectivity to the unconnected habitations. It must be ensured that the provision of New Connectivity (i.e. connecting unconnected habitations) should be given precedence over upgradation works in keeping with the objectives of the Programme.
Upgradation of existing rural roads is not central to the programme. However, the programme will permit upgradation of existing rural roads to the prescribed standards in those Districts where all habitations of the designated population size (para 1.6.1 above) have been provided all-weather connectivity. The provision for upgradation cannot exceed 20% of the State’s allocation as long as unconnected habitations still exist in the State. In other words, District-wise allocation is to be done on considerations of equity, but in such a way that new connectivity still gets priority by keeping a ceiling of 20 percent at the State level for upgradation works. Upgradation shall also be permitted in cases where the new link connects to a fair-weather road, which leads to the Market Centre. Only those rural roads are eligible for upgradation, which form part of the Core Network.
Upgradation shall cover the following types of works:
Improving surface drainage and constructing all missing cross-drainage works to make the road all-weather.
Improving the road pavement to standards required for the traffic, subject to a condition survey (see Chapter 3).
Improving road geometrics to prescribed standards and improving road safety.
1.6.3. Integrated Development of Rural Road Network
Provision of all weather connectivity from habitation to the market centre is
the basic feature of PMGSY. Thus, to provide assured and sustained all weather
connectivity from habitation to the market centre, construction of new links
wherever necessary and upgrading existing eligible through route, upto the
market centre, would form the basic feature of project proposals under the
1.6.4. Works not Covered by PMGSY
PMGSY envisages only single connectivity to be
provided. If a habitation is already connected to another habitation (or to an
existing all-weather road) by way of an all-weather road, then no further work
can be taken up under PMGSY at that habitation.
PMGSY does not permit repairs to black-topped or
cement-concrete roads, even if the surface condition is bad.
No urban roads can be constructed under the PMGSY.
PMGSY does not permit any road to be constructed or
upgraded that is not part of the Core Network.
PMGSY does not fund RoB costs for Railway crossings,
nor does it fund maintenance of manned/unmanned railway crossings.
The following works are not covered by PMGSY:
Provision of all weather connectivity from habitation to the market centre is the basic feature of PMGSY. Thus, to provide assured and sustained all weather connectivity from habitation to the market centre, construction of new links wherever necessary and upgrading existing eligible through route, upto the market centre, would form the basic feature of project proposals under the PMGSY.
1.6.4. Works not Covered by PMGSY
PMGSY envisages only single connectivity to be provided. If a habitation is already connected to another habitation (or to an existing all-weather road) by way of an all-weather road, then no further work can be taken up under PMGSY at that habitation.
PMGSY does not permit repairs to black-topped or cement-concrete roads, even if the surface condition is bad.
No urban roads can be constructed under the PMGSY.
PMGSY does not permit any road to be constructed or upgraded that is not part of the Core Network.
PMGSY does not fund RoB costs for Railway crossings, nor does it fund maintenance of manned/unmanned railway crossings.