The performance of rural roads has been “satisfactory”, according to a review of the government’s flagship Bharat Nirman programme released by the Prime Minister’s office on 13 July. The media dutifully reported that sentiment.
But a careful look shows this might be a rather optimistic view. Indeed, the review itself notes: “Against the Bharat Nirman target of connecting 66,802 villages..., 13,831 villages have been connected.” Even allowing that the target is for 2005-09 and the achievement up till 2007, the progress rate is telling. On 6 June, Mint pointed out that four of the six planks of this ambitious programme were behind by some two years.
Indeed, the pace could still pick up. But even with roads, the PM himself has publicly wondered if Bharat Nirman and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana won’t suffer from what often gives India poor quality roads: corruption. We also hope that the PM’s “hope” will be justified.