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Cancerous corruption in road projects: Manmohan

Friday 25 May 2007

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday expressed concern over corruption in road construction projects that "spread like cancer" and emphasised the need for transparent implementation. "We need quality benchmarks and quality assurance for rural roads, as we have for the national highways. I am concerned about the fact that we invest crores every year in road construction and maintenance, and yet with every monsoon our roads get worn [out]."

Dr. Singh was inaugurating a national conference on rural roads here.

A major reason for the poor quality of roads was corruption. "Corruption in road construction projects has spread like cancer to every corner of our vast country. I sincerely hope we can implement both the Pradhan Manthri Gram Sadak Yojana and Bharat Nirman without this affliction, and in a transparent and accountable manner." While the Centre was supportive in fundingthese programmes, the State Governments had to make commensurate efforts to ensure quality and timely completion.

Spelling out priority areas, Dr. Singh said there was need for laying multilaned highways connecting the country. This was being done through a massive expansion of the National Highway Development Programme with an investment of Rs. 2,20,000 crore. "Second, we need a network of rural roads, linking our villages to towns, to market centres and to our highways. Third, we need good quality border roads and better road connectivity in the northeastern region." Without connectivity, the rural economy would not develop.

Stressing the need to evolve technologies which were low-cost and which used locally available materials for construction of rural roads, Dr. Singh said this was not possible so far. What was needed was a policy and institutional framework for mainstreaming these alternatives for the development of the rural road network.

Also road construction should be made labour intensive, he said pointing to a possible synergy between Bharat Nirman and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.

See online : The Hindu

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