200 Km of road, 6 bridges shown ‘connected’ but don’t exist

Neeraj Rohmetra
JAMMU, Aug 22: Shocking though it may sound that nearly 200 Km of roads network and six bridges shown as “connected” in the original Core Network covered under the Border Area Development Program (BADP) scheme actually didn’t exist! Further, the approximate cost of execution of these important projects comes out to nearly Rs 160 crores.
These facts have been confessed by the State Government officials in a written statement submitted before the Joint Secretary (Road Connectivity) and Director General National Rural Roads Development Agency (NRRDA), Union Ministry of Rural Development. This has been stated in response to a letter dated August 21 this year bearing no. P-17025/17/2012-RC, which has been addressed to the Principal Secretary/Secretary of the States including Jammu and Kashmir dealing with Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in the State.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that the Union Cabinet had sought detailed information from the Ministry of Rural Development pertaining to road network covered under the BADP scheme in the border states of the country. Subsequently, the Union Rural Ministry wrote letter dated 31 May 2012 bearing no. P-17025/17/2012/RC wherein data of the left-out roads in Core-Network and road requiring revision to surface condition to include it in the CUPL in respect of international border blocks under BADP were sought.
“This connection, a meeting was called by Joint Secretary (RC) and DG NRRDA on July 27 this year, where the Jammu and Kashmir Government submitted the details of the report compiled by its officials working on ground for implementation of the BADP scheme. Similar reports were submitted by nine other States including Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand”, sources added.
Ironically, Jammu and Kashmir along with Uttarakhand were the only two states, who admitted in their official documents that several habitations were shown as connected in the original Core Network but the roads and bridges didn’t exist on ground.
“In case of Jammu and Kashmir, nearly 200 Km of road network and six bridges have been shown connected in the original Core Network but the roads didn’t exist on ground.  About 150 Km of road network and six bridges in Uttarakhand also didn’t exist on ground”, said the official documents.
Further, out of ten States, which had submitted details to the Union Rural Ministry, only Jammu and Kashmir has done wrong assessment of the surface condition of the existing roads to make them eligible for upgradation under the Centrallly Sponsored Schemes.  Statistics indicated that the State officials had made wrong assessment of surface conditions in case of nearly 2500 Km of road network and approximately 78 bridges connecting habitations in different areas. “The approximate construction cost involving this massive infrastructure stretched to nearly Rs 2000 crores”, sources added.
Official sources also stated that the Central Government is doing preliminary investigations to assess the quantum of left over habitations in various border blocks of the country and all the States had been directed to submit Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) in this context. The decision to cover left over habitations was taken after several States had approached the Central Government for providing the necessary road infrastructure.
The Border Area Development Programme (BADP) is part of the comprehensive approach to the Border Management with focus on socio-economic development of the border areas and to promote a sense of security amongst the people living there.  The main objective of the programme is to meet the special developmental needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the International Border.
The Programme is presently implemented in 44 blocks covering 11 border districts of the State. The State Level Screening Committee had recently reviewed the sectoral progress achieved under the programme on July 24 and held detailed discussions regarding the implementation of the Annual Action Plan 2012-13.

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