Centre allocates Rs 700 cr for developing 3000 km roads in J&K under PMGSY

Central government has allocated Rs 700 crore for developing 3,000-km roads covering 467 habitations across Jammu and Kashmir for the year 2019-20 under Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) scheme.

Union ministry of rural development has issued an order in this regard before the imposition of code of conduct in view of upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

According to the central government order, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has to contribute 10 percent as the state share of the allocated amount which is pegged at around Rs 77 crore.

The central government has allocated total Rs 22,000 crore for construction of roads under PMGSY during 2019-20 across India.

However in Jammu and Kashmir, the state government has been urging the central government to provide additional allocation for land acquisition citing state’s meagre financial resources.

In this regard, state government has already approached central government for seeking special dispensation of Rs 1724 crore for land acquisition under Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) scheme.

According to a senior public works department official, under Phase X-XII of PMGSY scheme, the centre has not provided funds for land acquisition, as was done for earlier phases.

“Given the state’s poor fiscal health it is unlikely that government could allocate Rs 1,724 crore for land acquisition of this centrally funded scheme,” he said adding that funding for earlier 9 phases included funds for land acquisition.

But now as the central government has asked state to contribute its own funds for land acquisition, state has approached centre again seeking funds as a special case keeping in view state’s poor economic condition.

“In view of this scenario, chief secretary has already taken up the issue with union government,” he said adding that if funds are not provided for land acquisition, projects coming up in these phases will be badly impacted.

Since the inception of the PMGSY scheme, 3,501 connectivity projects, including roads and bridges, have been taken up in J&K at a cumulative cost of Rs 12,800 crore.

However state government’s sluggish approach has earned it centre’s ire a number of times. Recently, a strongly worded letter was sent to chief secretary J&K. “The slow pace of construction by state is much below the national average and is a cause for serious concern. For the next seven months, the state would require to construct roads at an average rate of 10 km per day,” the letter had stated.

According to officials, last year former governor NN Vohra also expressed serious concern over the fact that 2,400 km of roads under Phase III-IX of the PMGSY costing Rs 1,500 crore are yet to be completed.

The PMGSY is under the authority of the Union ministry of rural development and began on 25 December 2000.

During November 2015, following the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, the Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Rationalisation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, it was announced that the project will be funded by both the central government (60 percent share) and states (40 percent share).

In 2017, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and its National Rural Road Development Agency (NRRDA) had also reprimanded Jammu Kashmir Government for slow progress on the pending projects and asked the state to focus on balance habitations, particularly in its nine districts, which have less than 40 percent connectivity.