MANISH ANAND- Somewhat cornered, the government has virtually given up the effort to make metal roads in the Maoist-dominated areas.
With the Naxalites preventing the government from making concrete roads in remote areas dominated by them, the ministry of rural development will now onwards go for “multiple connectivity”. This would mean that construction of concrete roads would depend on the Maoists dominance and threat in a particular area.
Incidentally, Maoists are against concrete (metal) roads as they facilitate smooth plying of the police and paramilitary vehicles.
Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday said that there is no compulsion to lay black-top (bitumen) roads. The move has also come in the wake up the Maoists blowing up black-top roads. “Maoists are not against kutcha (unmetalled road). So, we are allowing such roads to be constructed under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY),” said Mr Ramesh. The government has admitted that the effort to connect tribal habitations with roads is moving at a snail pace due to stiff opposition from Maoists.
Far from laying the roads, the state governments, particularly in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, have not even been able to prepare detailed project reports (DPRs) for construction of roads under the PMGSY as officials and contractors refrain from going to the Naxal-affected areas for physical inspection, said a senior official. Though the government appears not making much of a headway on the ground, there is a move at least to allow sanction of funds for expansion of rural roads in the Maoist-affected areas.
The Cabinet, in its meeting on Thursday, would take up a proposal, mooted by the Union tribal affairs minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo, to reduce the minimum population norms from the existing 250 to 100 for getting funds under the PMGSY for roads.