The World Bank has had a long engagement in the rural roads sector in India, either through specific rural roads projects or through broader engagement in rural development.
Given India’s focus on improving rural connectivity in a systematic manner, the World Bank has been involved with India’s flagship rural roads program – Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) - since its inception. The program, launched in 2001, marked a paradigm shift in the way rural roads are mapped, designed, monitored, and built across the country.
The Bank’s engagement has contributed many of the program’s approaches and procedures. These include helping define the core road network, prioritizing road selection through a fair and transparent process, ensuring mandatory provision for peoples’ participation, introducing environmental standards and management principles for maintenance, and providing exposure to good global practices.
Rural roads projects
World Bank support for PMGSY began in 2004 with a $400 million Rural Roads Project (2004 -2012). The project constructed more than 9,900km of rural roads in select districts of Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
Building on this experience, a second Rural Roads Project (2010-2015) focuses on providing all-weather roads to villages in eight states. These include the low income states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, as well as the special category upland states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Meghalaya, as well as Punjab.
The project is introducing innovative technologies for the development of rural roads, training local contractors, developing IT applications for field-level reporting, and ensuring that the roads created are maintained in a sustainable manner.
Improving access to smaller habitations in Rajasthan
In areas not covered by PMGSY, the Bank’s Rajasthan Road Sector Modernization Project is helping the state reap the benefits of the large network of rural roads developed under the PMGSY by connecting about 1,300 villages that did not fall under the program’s purview. The Bank is also helping the state to scale up road sector reforms and further improve its systems and procedures.