1. Introduction

1.1 Rural Road Connectivity is not only a key component of Rural Development in India, it is also recognised as an effective Poverty reduction Programme. Notwithstanding the efforts made, over the years, at the State and Central levels, through different Programmes, about 40% of the Habitations in the country are still not connected by All-weather roads. It is well known that even where connectivity has been provided, the roads constructed are of such quality that they cannot be categorised as All-weather roads.

1.2 Government have resolved to provide Rural Road Connectivity to all habitations and accordingly decided that 50% of the Cess on High Speed Diesel (HSD) would be earmarked for this Programme. Accordingly, Rs. 2500 crore (being 50% of the Cess on High Speed Diesel (HSD) has been earmarked for the purpose during the year 2000-2001.

1.3 On the 15th August 2000, the Prime minister announced a Centrally Sponsored Scheme called the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana with the objective of connecting, within next three years, every village that has a population of more than 1000 through good All-weather roads and every village of more than 500 persons similarly connected by the year 2007. The budget for the year 2000-01 indicates the flow of funds for Rural Roads as Additional Central Assistance. Since this has been taken into consideration while determining the Plan size of States, it is proposed to retain the arrangement as such for this year. From the year 2001-02 onwards, it is proposed to commence a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme, with the same objectives.

2. Programme Objectives and Coverage

2.1 The objective of the Government is to provide Road Connectivity, through good All-weather roads, to all Rural Habitations with a population of more than 500 persons by the year 2007 (end of Tenth Plan period). In the process, all unconnected Habitations having a population of more than 1000 persons would be covered in the next three years. Accordingly, for the year 2000-2001, the Programme would cover Habitations having a population of more than 1000 persons. Where a State has no uncovered Habitation of this population size, smaller Habitations may also be covered, subject to the minimum population size being 500. In case of hilly/desert tracts, this may not be less than 250.

2.2 The primary focus of the Programme will be on construction of new roads. However, upgradation (to prescribed standards) of existing roads will be permitted to be taken up under the Programme so as to achieve connectivity through good All-weather roads. In taking up upgradation, the population norms indicated in Para 2.1 above shall be observed. Upgradation would involve conversion, depending on the need, of Gravel roads / Water Bound Macadam (WBM) roads to Black-Topped (B.T.). Extension of existing roads to the SC/ST Habitation in the village would also be covered under upgradation. Upgradation would, however, not cover repairs of existing Roads.

2.3 The Programme shall cover only ‘Other District Roads’ (ODRs) and ‘Village Roads’ (VRs).

2.4 The Rural Roads to be taken up will, by and large, be surfaced roads (black topped / cement concrete). However, depending upon the soil conditions, All-weather roads may also be Gravel Roads, but with all necessary cross- drainage structures.

3. Implementation of the Programme

3.1 Each State Government / UT Administration would identify one or two suitable Agencies (having a presence in all the Districts and with established competence in executing time-bound programmes), to be designated as Executing Agencies.

3.2 At the District level, the Programme will be planned, co-ordinated, and implemented through the Executing Agencies. A Programme Implementation Unit (PIU), entirely directed towards this Programme, will be set up in all the Districts concerned. All PIUs will be manned by competent technical personnel from amongst the available staff or through deputationists and no new posts will be created for the purpose.

3.3 The State Governments will establish suitable linkages in this behalf with the District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs). Funds would be released to the concerned DRDAs for the year 2000-2001.

District Rural Roads Plan

3.4 The PIU will formulate a Master Plan for each Block indicating the Habitations in that Block and the existing status of road connectivity, including the proposed new construction as well as roads requiring upgradation. Roads under construction under other Schemes such as RIDF, the erstwhile BMS, externally- aided projects or State/ District Sector Schemes should also be clearly specified. This shall thereupon be integrated into a District Master Plan, to be called the District Rural Roads Plan. The Plans so prepared would be subject to close technical scrutiny so as to arrive at the most economical cost of achieving the targets of the Programme and would also indicate the spacing of execution of works. The Master Plan would be approved in the Governing Body of the respective DRDA, taking into account the views and suggestions of the local Members of Parliament and Members of State Assembly.

State Level Standing Committee

3.5 The DRDA will, thereupon, forward the Master Plan to the State-level Standing Committee, set up by the State Government (ideally headed by the Chief Secretary), to ensure close and effective monitoring of the Programme. Upon approval by the said Standing Committee, the project proposals would be forwarded by the State Government to the Ministry of Rural Development.

3.6 It will be the responsibility of the Standing Committee to oversee that lands are available for taking up the proposed road works. A Certificate to this effect will accompany all the proposals. No provision is to be made for Land Acquisition under this Programme.

Empowered Committee

3.7 At the Central level, the Project proposals received from the State Governments would be considered by an Empowered Committee (to be chaired by Secretary, Department of Rural Development) and including the AS& FA, Ministry of Rural Development; Advisor/Additional Adviser (Transport), Planning Commission; Director, Central Road Research Institute, New Delhi; One Expert to be nominated by the Ministry of Rural Development; and Joint Secretary (RC), Department of Rural Development as Members. The Deputy Secretary/Director handling the Programme in the Ministry of Rural Development would be the Convener. The representatives of the State Government, whose projects are being considered by the Empowered Committee, may be invited to attend the Meetings, as and when required. The Recommendations of the Empowered Committee would, thereafter, be submitted to the Minister of Rural Development for further orders / approval.

4. Execution of Works

4.1 On clearance of the Project proposals, the relevant projects would be executed by the PIUs and completed within a period of 9 months, from the date of approval; in exceptional cases, this period may extend up to 12 months. Delayed execution of projects could also hold up further sanctions.

4.2 The well-established procedure for tendering, through competitive bidding, would be followed for all projects. The projects would be tendered in packages of appropriate size (between Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 5 crore).

4.3 The road works, including the Cross Drainage works, will be executed as per the technical specifications prescribed by the Ministry of Surface Transport / Indian Roads Congress. The Ministry of Rural Development will, in due course, issue further Guidelines in this regard. Special care will be taken in coastal areas etc. to see that the shoulders are duly consolidated. Use of locally available material, including products like Fly Ash, should be encouraged subject to adherence to technical norms. The roads must have proper drainage facilities. The bridges may be so designed as to serve, where feasible, as Bridge-cum-Bandharas. No lead charge would be payable for transportation of soil (except in case of Black Cotton soil).

4.4 Time/Cost over-runs (and consequent cost escalations) will not be permitted and, in such an eventuality, the State Government concerned would have to bear the additional expenditure. To avoid such a contingency, the Executing Agency will incorporate suitable Penalty Clauses in the Contract.

4.5 The roads constructed under this Programme are expected to be of very high standard, requiring no major repairs for at least five (5) years after completion of construction. In order to realise this objective, suitable clauses relating to Performance Guarantee shall be included in the Contract Documents.

4.6 Planting of fruit bearing and other suitable trees, on both sides of the roads, would be one of the contract conditions.

4.7 It will be the responsibility of the PIUs to ensure timely payments to the contractors. Each Roadwork will be photographed at three stages – beginning, middle and at the final stages.

4.8 The Ministry of Rural Development will indicate the design of a logo, road borders and all relevant information and these will be duly installed.

5. Supervision of Works and Quality Control

5.1 Quality of works being the essence of this Programme, all works will be effectively supervised. It will be the prime responsibility of the PIU to make certain that the work done (and all the materials utilised in the same) conforms to the prescribed specifications. In addition to checking the quality of materials at site, the steps warranted in this direction should include:

  1. Obtaining the Test Certificates of manufactured materials from the sources from which these are procured,
  2. In the case of mineral aggregate, inspection of the quarry, (or even stationing a representative) to ensure that only approved rock is crushed to the required sizes,
  3. For works involving processing (i.e., stabilisation or compaction involving equipment), requiring the contractor to do the work on a trial stretch so as to ensure that the equipment and procedures used turn out work of the highest quality.

5.2 Periodic inspections of works will be carried out by the Competent supervisory Authority/ies of the Executing Agency. It will be necessary for the Executing Agencies to set up Quality Control Units, independent of the PIU.

5.3 The State-level Standing Committee will oversee that the supervision of works is continuous and effective.

5.4 The Ministry of Rural Development will engage Independent Monitors (Individuals / Agency) for inspection of works under the Programme. It will be the responsibility of the PIU to facilitate the inspection of works by the Monitors, who shall be given free access to all records, administrative, technical and financial.

6. Monitoring

6.1 The Ministry of Rural Development would evolve a suitable software for an "On-line Management & Monitoring System". The State authorities are advised to equip the PIUs with necessary Computer Hardware to enable on-line monitoring. The cost of the Hardware may be included in the Project cost. The cost would also include the cost of digitisation of maps, for which the Ministry of Rural Development would issue separate Guidelines.

6.2 The Ministry of Rural Development will in co-operation with the Nodal Department for the Programme at the State Level organise suitable Training Programmes for the PIU personnel.

6.3. The Ministry of Rural Development will prescribe Periodical Reports and Returns for monitoring the performance and progress of Projects taken up under this Programme.

7. Maintenance of Rural Roads

7.1 The Rural Roads constructed /upgraded under this Programme will be maintained by the concerned Panchayati Raj Institution (District Panchayat/ Intermediate Panchayat). The concerned Panchayati Raj Institutions would need to be identified while submitting the project for approval and the State Authorities will be required to furnish an Undertaking that they would remit (to the identified Panchayati Raj Institution), from the State Government funds, the requisite cost of maintenance. The State Governments will also offer an Undertaking for the release of maintenance costs, alongwith their project proposals. The Ministry of Rural Development would oversee the implementation of this undertaking.

7.2 Efforts will be made to involve local people’s participation in the maintenance of Rural Roads. Suitable mechanisms and procedures will be evolved by the State Governments in consultation with the Ministry of Rural Development.

8. Funding

8.1 For this year (2000-2001) only, funds under the Programme are being provided by the Centre to the States as Additional Central Assistance (ACA) and will follow the normal pattern of Additional Central Assistance. The Ministry of Rural Development will indicate the manner of release of funds, possibly including an "On-line payment system" for the Programme from the next financial year.

8.2 The Ministry of Rural Development may allocate additional funds to any State taking into consideration, inter alia, the Special Problems / Needs of specific areas.

8.3 For the year, 2000-2001, the cost of the approved Projects will be released to the concerned DRDAs, through the State Governments, in two Instalments. The release will be made by the Ministry of Finance on the recommendations of the Ministry of Rural Development. State Governments will be required to transfer funds to the concerned DRDAs within 15 days of release by Government of India. The fund will be non-lapsable at the DRDA level.

8.4 It will be incumbent on the DRDAs to open a separate and single Bank account for the funds received under this Programme. These funds will remain entirely separate from those of any other Programme/Scheme. The interest earned on this Account will not be diverted to any other Programme, even on temporary basis.

8.5 The funds for the Second Instalment will be released after fulfilment of procedures prescribed by the Ministry of Rural Development, which will include satisfactory reports from Independent Monitors engaged by the Ministry of Rural Development. For the year 2000-2001 alone, the Ministry of Rural Development may release the entire approved cost in one Instalment, subject to the total release being limited to the allocation for the State/UT.

8.6 The Head of the PIU, subject to not being below the rank of an Executive Engineer, will be competent to operate on this Account, subject to the normal rules and regulations of the State Government concerned. The funds earmarked for each Project are to be utilised for that Project only. The Head of the PIU will send a Monthly Account to the Project Director, DRDA. The Second Instalment for each Project will be claimed by the Project Director, DRDA, through the State Government.

8.7 It will be open to the State Government to nominate the Head of the District PIU as the ex-officio Project Director, DRDA for the purposes of this Programme.

9. Accounts & Audit

9.1 The well-established accounting system of the Works Departments would be utilised for this Programme. The Ministry of Rural Development may evolve suitable accounting procedures, including computer-based ones, keeping in view the normal procedures that are in force.

9.2 The Ministry of Rural Development would lay down the Audit requirements for the Programme. In addition to such Audit procedures as may be prescribed, the works under this Programme would be subject to audit by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (C&AG). The Audit of the work done would cover aspects of quality, in addition to financial audit.

9.3 All the road works will be subjected to Social Audit by way of discussion in the Gram Sabha. Relevant information in this regard will be made available to the Gram Sabha. State governments will issue necessary instructions in this regard.

10. Miscellaneous

10.1 No Agency charges will be admissible for road works taken up under this Programme. The Executing Agencies will not levy charges in any form, such as Centage charges etc.

10.2 The Ministry of Rural Development may allow costs incidental to execution of the road works, such as Telephone and other Office expenses, and costs of travel and may lay down suitable Guidelines in this regard. Such costs would be treated as Project expenses and would be debited to the Project Cost.

10.3 To maintain quality and ensure timely completion of works, the Ministry of Rural Development will lay down a scheme of incentives / disincentives to the States / Districts.

10.4 The Ministry of Rural Development may, from time to time, issue such directions as may be necessary for smooth implementation of the Programme.

10.5 For the year 2000-2001 only, the Project proposals may include the road works initiated under the erstwhile Basic Minimum Services (BMS) Programme which are still incomplete. The Project proposals should clearly specify the value of the work done under the BMS component and the value of the work remaining incomplete. Such works shall be completed within the specified period.