Monday, 12 December 2016


Rural Road connectivity is a key component of rural development, since it promotes access to

economic and social services, thereby generating increased agricultural productivity, non-agriculture

employment as well as non-agricultural productivity, which in turn expands rural growth

opportunities and real income through which poverty can be reduced.

A study (Fan et al. 2006) carried out by the International Food Policy Research Institute on

linkages between government expenditure and poverty in rural India has revealed that an

investment of Rs 1 crore in roads lifts 1650 poor persons above the poverty line. Public investment

on roads impacts rural poverty through its effect on improved agricultural productivity, higher non-

farm employment opportunities and increased rural wages. Improvement in agricultural productivity

not only reduces rural poverty directly by increasing income of poor households, it also causes

decline in poverty indirectly by raising agricultural wages and lowering food prices (since poor

households are net buyers of foodgrains). Similarly, increased non-farm employment and higher

rural wages also enhance incomes of the rural poor and consequently, reduce rural poverty. This

study estimated that while the ‘productivity effect’ of government spending on rural roads accounts

for 24 per cent of total impact on poverty, increased non-farm employment accounts for 55 per cent

and higher rural wages accounts for the remaining 31 per cent. Further, of the total productivity

effect on poverty, 75 per cent arises from the direct impact of roads in increasing incomes, while the

remaining 25 per cent arises from lower food prices (15 per cent) and increased wages (10 per cent).

Similar results are found in other developing countries. The study by the same institute (Fan et al.

2000)) in China revealed that with every 10,000 Yuan (about $1200) spent on rural roads eleven

persons are lifted above the poverty line. Living Standard Survey in Vietnam in 2002 showed that

populations living within 2 km of all-weather roads have lower poverty rates as noted in the draft

Vision Document for Rural Roads, 2006 (MoRD, 2006). Statistical evidence apart, the link between

poverty and lack of accessibility is quite apparent. Nearer home, a household survey (APERP, 1997)

conducted in the state of Andhra Pradesh indicated that the rural road improvements lead to

substantial reduction in freight charges, increase in household income, more employment

opportunities, and expansion of cultivated land as shown in Figures 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3.


Roads are classified under a time-honoured system into National Highways (NHs), State Highways

(SHs), Major District Roads (MDRs), Other District Roads (ODRs), and Village Roads (VRs), with well-

recognized standards for construction and maintenance laid out in respect of each category.

Generally speaking, there are clearly understood demarcations of responsibility in terms of

governmental offices expected to deal with each category. However, while the activity mapping with

respect to NHs and SHs is clear cut, with respect to MDRs, ODRs, and VRs, these distinctions are

blurred. In many states, though PRIs are assigned responsibilities with respect to ODRs and VRs, a

plethora of agencies and line departments undertake formation and repairs of roads. These include

the state government’s PWD wing, the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs),

parallel bodies created by multilateral agencies, Forest department, Development authorities and so


There are several general funds that are used for roads,

apart from special schemes tied to specific road projects.

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