In a bid to create a better transport system in rural areas, the Indian government has proposed a plan to provide 80,000 commercial passenger vehicles at a subsidised cost to 1.5 lakh villages in India. Likely to be christened as the Pradhan Mantri Gram Parivahan Yojna, these vehicles will be provided to defence personnel and women self-help groups. This new scheme will supplement the Government of India’s previous scheme – Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, initiated to improve road conditions in villages.
People close to the Rural Development Ministry have commented that even today people in rural and remote areas of the country are forced to walk for few miles, as there is hardly any mode of transport available there. Moreover with the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana scheme being effectively executed, the construction on rural roads is going on at a decent pace and substantial amount of work has been done to connect the remote habitations in the country. In the last financial year (April 2015 to March 2016), the rural development ministry had constructed 36,000 km of roads in rural areas and has fixed a target of 48,000 km for the current fiscal. Currently, the ministry is constructing roads at a rate of 80 km per day and aims to ramp it up to 133 km per day.
“So now roads are in place, but public transport is missing. That’s why the government is considering to provide 10-12 seater passenger vehicles at subsidised rates to retired defence personnel and women self-help groups for running on these roads,” said a source to PTI. According to a 2011 census, about 33 per cent people still walk and do not use motorised transport to travel and a majority of the remaining either use two-wheelers or unsafe mode of transport.
Apparently, the government carried out a special survey in the rural areas of Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh to assess the feasibility of the scheme. The study has shown that providing 10 or 12-seater commercial passenger vehicles at subsidised rates in rural areas will be highly beneficial. These vehicles will connect at least 10-14 small villages, which are located on the stretch of 20-22 km.