Guwahati: A central rural roads scheme would be specially tailored for the northeastern states, where the low population in habitations prevents the launch of new projects, Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday.
The ministry is going to add a special dispensation in the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in the northeastern states in view of their topographical difference with the rest of the country, Ramesh said.
"The primary objective of the PMGSY is to provide connectivity to unconnected habitations with a population of 250 people and above. However, the population is below 250 in a majority of the habitations in hilly states of the region," he said.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the population was less than 250 in 76 percent of the state`s total habitations, he said.
"Nagaland too faces a similar problem. So, we need to add a special dispensation in the PMGSY in the northeastern states for better implementation of the scheme and better road connectivity," said the minister.
"The PMGSY normally supports construction of bridges up to 50 metres length. If the length of a bridge is above 50 metres, it is not covered under the PMGSY scheme," he said.
"But in the 78 Naxal-affected districts the PMGSY supports construction of bridges up to 75 metre length," he said, adding that the construction of bridges up to 100 metre length should be covered under the central scheme in the northeast.
"We are going to examine whether the special dispensation available for the Naxal- affected districts can be incorporated for the northeastern states as well," he said.
Ramesh also rated northeastern states at par with other states in terms of implementation of the PMGSY.
He however, asked the states to pay more attention in implementing the scheme as 15 to 20 percent of the works completed in the region were found to be unsatisfactory.
The minister complemented the Assam government for constructing 11,000 km rural roads under the central scheme during last 10 years.
He said apart from the PMGSY, an Asian Development Bank-sponsored project was in the pipeline, especially for Assam, where 440 km of rural roads will be constructed including 302 bridges of 50 metre length.
On the issue of safe drinking water and sanitation in rural areas, he asked the state government to cover the existing 2,200 gram panchayats in Assam under the rural sanitation scheme called Nirmal Gram Yojana in the next three years.
The minister also called for joint efforts to check corruption in the central rural job scheme.