Srinagar, Aug 29 (SocialNews.XYZ) 'Naya Jammu and Kashmir' has embarked on a mission to connect every village. The initiatives taken by the Centre to connect inaccessible rural areas with the mainland have revolutionised the very concept of connectivity in the Himalayan region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mantra of 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' is helping the denizens of the rural areas to reap the benefits of equitable development and connectivity for all.
The road construction in Jammu and Kashmir picked up pace after August 5, 2019 -- when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K's special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the Public Works Department till date has completed 2,113 projects having length of 13,233.36 km with an expenditure of Rs 7,864.60 crore.
Out of 2,148 eligible habitations, 1,943 have been connected so far. During the current year, against the target of 3,500 km, as much as 2,400 km of roads have been laid with an expenditure of Rs 1,380 crore.
In 2021-22, 7,301 kms were blacktopped. As many as 114 habitations were connected through road networks by executing 427 schemes. Further, 125 bridges will be constructed under PMGSY to provide connectivity to the far-flung areas.
Road connectivity after 70 years
For the past 70 years, poor road connectivity kept J&K, especially its rural areas, deprived of development and prosperity. Many hamlets in the Himalayan region were forbidden lands as there was no connectivity. Even the ambulances couldn't reach there.
None of the erstwhile political regimes in the Himalayan region paid any attention towards the importance of having proper road infrastructure in place. What an irony!
The lackadaisical attitude of the ruling class led to people from rural areas deprived them from becoming a part of 'New India.'
During the past three years the road projects executed across J&K have reduced the travel time between major destinations across the Union Territory. Earlier, a journey from Kishtwar to Jammu used to take 8 hours, now the same distance can be covered within 5 hours. Similarly, it used to take 10 to 12 hours to reach from Jammu to Srinagar or vice-versa, but now the same sojourn is completed within 5 to 7 hours.
According to the officials, during the past three years, macdamization in J&K increased to 20.6 km per day as compared to 6.54 km per day before 2019. It's a major benchmark of the development that J&K has witnessed. Similarly, road length in J&K increased to 41,141 km and the percentage of blacktop roads reached 74 per cent as compared to 66 per cent in 2019.
In 2022, J&K was once again ranked among top three performing states/UTs at the national level for construction of road length per year under the PMGSY. It was for the second consecutive year that J&K maintained its national ranking.
Udhampur district had bagged the top position at the national level for successfully implementing the PMGSY for 2020-21. The district remained on top for constructing roads of 560.49 km.
At present under PMGSY, an average 9 km of road length is constructed per day, which is higher than the achievement for the year 2020-21.
Connecting unconnected habitations
Jammu and Kashmir has embarked on a mission to reach out to unconnected habitations and in three years it has achieved considerable targets and achievements under various schemes, programmes implemented for construction, improvement, upgradation of roads and bridges with special focus on rural areas.
Emphasis being laid on improving the road network has proven that the government is committed to the welfare of the people and is undoing the wrongs that were committed by the former rulers, who remained busy in politicking and didn't pay much attention towards providing basic amenities which included developing road infrastructure for the common residents in J&K.
The present dispensation has driven home a point that road connectivity is a key component to develop rural J&K.
The new roads have brought villages closer to the cities and are helping the farmers to reach the markets in time. Perishable items cultivated by them are selling like hot cakes as these are reaching the customers on time. Farmers are getting a good price for their yield. This factor is encouraging them to focus on increasing their production.
The better road connectivity has generated more employment avenues and has provided an opportunity to the rural people to increase their incomes.
According to the officials, inner roads of many villages in north Kashmir's Baramulla district were macadamized after 15-years. Denizens of these villages had become used to living with potholed roads, traffic gridlocks and water logging. It's not only the Baramulla district where people were suffering due to the dilapidated roads, many districts in J&K had the same story till 2019.
For the first time after Independence, road construction work has started in villages across J&K. Darui village in Jammu region, just 2.5 km from the main road, remained unconnected from 1947 to 2022. The construction work on the road started recently at an estimated cost of Rs 2.29 crore.
GoI sanctions PMGSY-III
The Union Ministry of Rural Development Department had sanctioned 3,347 schemes under the PMGSY-I to be executed in 12 phases envisaging construction of 18,432.79 km roads costing Rs 1,19,646.76 crore to provide connectivity to 2,148 habitations. Under the PMGSY-2, 107 schemes (704.55 km) had been sanctioned worth Rs 790.49 crore.
Last week the Union Ministry for Rural Development approved PMGSY-III for 1,276 km costing Rs 1,357 crore for J&K with the aim to provide all-weather road connectivity to unconnected habitations for sustainable and inclusive growth.
The PMGSY-III is yet another milestone in the rural connectivity of J&K.
The steps being taken by the Centre are aimed at improvising the modern rural infrastructure so that the connectivity can be enhanced and the rural population can get the benefits of the ease of living.
J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister for Rural Development Giriraj Singh for granting approval to PMGSY-III and termed it as yet another milestone in the rural connectivity of J&K.
"It will provide all-weather road connectivity to unconnected habitats for sustainable and inclusive growth," he said.