SHILLONG, July 02: After showing much tardiness, Meghalaya finally seems to have decided to fall in-line with the guidelines of PMGSY scheme for its effective implementation.
After the scheduled time – period for completion of the said scheme has reached half mark (two and an half year), Meghalaya PWD Minister, Sniawbhalang Dhar, on Tuesday announced that the State Government is considering creating separate wings for the State districts for speedy implementation of PMGSY scheme.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting on implementation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in Meghalaya, Dhar said “the geographical locations as well as the climate conditions in Meghalaya have contributed to the delay of the work as compared to the other States.”
Under the PMGSY Rural Road Project (RRP-II) funded by World Bank (WB), an amount of 1,071 crore has been sanctioned for Meghalaya over a period of 5 years.
The PMGSY RRP-II project is a Rs 6,840 crore ($1.5 bn) operation which will use a programmatic approach to support implementation of the PMGSY programme over a five year period (2011-2015). The participating states include Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
Under the first phase, it has been proposed to provide connectivity to 83 habitations by constructing 262 km road at an estimated cost of Rs 171 crore. In the second stage, road connectivity will be provided to 432 habitations by constructing 1,363 km road at an estimated cost of Rs 900 crore.
Notably, the preparation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for PMGSY rural road project had to be contracted out from the State PWD by the State Cabinet due to its incapacity to undertake the work in January 2012.
At present Meghalaya is just touching phase-VII of the implementation of PMGSY.
However, in comparison to Assam, Meghalaya has been lagging awfully behind schedule in implementation of the scheme.
The condition was so appalling that the then Union Minister of State (MoS) for Rural Development, Agatha K Sangma had to personally come down to State to enquire on the reasons behind in December 2010.
She had then revealed that to run the PMGSY scheme, a separate cell was needed to be created with dedicated staffs, which is not there. Though there is a cell under the PWD but it is totally based on engineers of the department, who have to perform dual duties.
She had also stressed on the need to recruit more engineers and needing more workforces for effective implementation of the scheme. Additionally, she had cautioned that World Bank has the capacity to take back or stop or divert this fund in case it found out that Meghalaya as a state is not performing or is not able to draw that money.
Soon after her review, the department did recruit about 70 Junior Engineers (JE) and 20 assistant engineers but none for PMGSY. Instead they were again given dual responsibilities to look after both the departments, PWD and PMGSY. Though they proved quite helpful in preparing the DPR for the sanctioned 105.8 km of road, the quantum of work was just too much even for them to complete the remaining DPRs on time.
As per the guidelines, each district is required to have two Assistant Engineers and one Junior Engineer per block, only for PMGSY, to effectively implement the scheme. On the contrary, the state is currently managing with only one Assistant Engineer per district who is performing dual jobs of looking after normal PWD works and also implementing the scheme.