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Bihar allowed to construct rural roads under central scheme


New Delhi: Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has allowed road projects worth Rs.935 crore to be undertaken by state government agencies in Bihar, which has been complaining about the slow pace of work under central agencies.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who met Ramesh Friday, said there had been an agreement that pending roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) which are with central agencies would be transferred to the state government. He said he had come to thank Ramesh.

Kumar has been complaining about the slow speed of construction of PMGSY roads by central agencies and a delay in the release of funds. He has also been objecting to the central agencies’ involvement in implementing PMGSY in the state.

The issue was discussed during Ramesh’s visit to Patna last month and later Bihar Minister for Rural Works Bhim Singh came to the capital for further consultations on the issue.

Ramesh had Thursday written to Kumar saying 1,827 km of rural roads in Bihar, earlier sanctioned to central agencies, will be built by the state government.

The letter, which addressed the chief minister as “My dear Nitishbabu,” said that 409 projects (1,827 km worth Rs.935 crore) “which were earlier sanctioned to central agencies (NBCC, NPCC, NHPC) and which were un-awarded have been cancelled”.

“The state government will submit detailed project reports (DPRs) for these roads after which they will be sanctioned,” he said.

The letter, written after a meeting of the empowered committee of PMGSY Wednesday, said the core network for Bihar under PMGSY has been approved, subject only to any reconciliation between the habitation and revenue village population data.

The letter also said missing bridges (15 m and above) on already sanctioned roads will be approved when DPRs are submitted by the state government while missing bridges (less than 15 m) on such roads will be examined on a case-to-case basis.

Kumar told mediapersons that the Rural Development Ministry had also agreed to relax population norms for development projects in Maoist-affected areas of the state.

He suggested that the government set up a statutory body to conduct a below poverty line survey as the data was vital for purposes of development.