The Indian government will revisit Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, its rural road development project, in order to reduce the cost of constructing rural roads across the country.

Minister for Rural Development Birender Singh said that the current 14 per cent administrative expense in the overall budget of PMGSY was too much and reducing this expense could create more funds that could be used to build more roads in rural areas. His ministry plans to take a second look at the specifications, standards and guidelines of the scheme to lower project costs.

PMGSY was launched 14 years ago, on December 25, 2000, on the birthday of then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Since then, more than 1.03 lakh villages in India have been connected by rural roads measuring over 4.16 lakh kilometres. In coming months the focus will be on constructing roads in the 88 most backward districts of the country. Under the ongoing PMGSY-II scheme, 50,000 km of roads will be upgraded with funding from the central government. For 2014-15, the government has earmarked Rs. 14,000 crore for rural road connectivity projects, which is expected to help reduce poverty on a large scale.

In another development, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh has suggested that the states should bear the burden for maintenance of roads as they had a dedicated machinery to undertake such works. Singh was referring to public works departments in each of the states and union territories. He also pitched for large-scale use of plastic waste in the construction of rural roads under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Campaign).

Earlier, the Ministry of Rural Development approved 28 rural road projects worth Rs. 438 crore for building roads in remote and sensitive Leh and Kargil districts in Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir. The J&K government had submitted proposals for 350 km of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna.

The 28 projects cleared include six proposals in Leh covering a total length of 142 km and costing Rs. 181.4 crore and 22 proposals in Kargil spanning a length of 207 km and costing Rs. 256.6 crore.

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