In Naxal-hit areas,panchayats may carry out PM road projectshttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/in-naxalhit-areas-panchayats-may-carry-out-pm-road-projects/

In Naxal-hit areas,panchayats may carry out PM road projects

He was addressing a gathering of newly elected representatives of all 108 GPs of Malkangiri in Orissa

With contractors avoiding rural road projects in Naxal-hit districts,the Union Rural Development Ministry plans to entrust local panchayats to execute them under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

“If there are no contractors ready to construct rural roads in these areas despite repeated tenders,we are ready to hand over the task to gram panchayats (GPs),” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Monday here.

He was addressing a gathering of newly elected representatives of all 108 GPs of Malkangiri in Orissa.

The announcement was made in the backdrop of many of the representatives raising the issue of construction of a bridge that will connect over 150 tribal habitations in remote parts of Malkangiri that otherwise are a safe haven for Naxals. Former district collector of Malkangiri,Vineel Krishna,who is currently private secretary to Ramesh,was abducted last year and held hostage by Naxals there.

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“About 12 years ago the foundation stone for Gurupriya bridge was laid by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,but it remains stuck. I guess former chief minister J B Patnaik had also laid a foundation stone,” Ramesh said. The minister’s announcement holds significance for 78 Naxal-affected districts parts of which remain unconnected for want of all-weather roads.

In fact,20 of these 78 districts,including Malkangiri,have not been able to utilise even half of the PMGSY funds since the inception of the scheme in 2000 for want of contractors. Malkangiri,in particular,has utilised only about one-third of its rural road funds of about Rs 400 crore.

The Union Cabinet recently approved an additional Rs 8,500 crore for rural roads in these 78 Naxal-hit districts.

Ramesh also announced that beneficiaries of the Forest Rights Act will be entitled for rural housing under the Indira Awas Yojana.