Fact Check: Has the speed of Rural Road construction doubled?

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Has the average speed of rural road construction doubled? Has the average speed of national highway construction increase substantially? Here is a fact check

In an infographic published by the government on the 48-months portal, there are four claims regarding road connectivity in India. This article is a fact check of the claims.

Has rural road connectivity increased and by how much?
The first claim of the government is that rural road connectivity increased from 56% in 2014 to 82% villages. The impact assessment report of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) states that PMGSY was launched in December 2000 as a special intervention of the Government of India with the broad objective of ensuring sustainable poverty reduction. The scheme aims to provide good quality all-weather single connectivity road to every eligible habitation. Rural roads are a state subject under the Constitution and as such are the basic responsibility of the states. However, under the PMGSY, the construction of good quality and well-engineered roads are fully funded by the Government of India. Maintenance of these roads is the responsibility of the states. The year 2013 saw the launch of PMGSY-II with the objectives of consolidating the existing rural road network and upgrading existing rural roads that provide connectivity to rural growth centres. PMGSY-II envisages sharing of construction costs between the Centre and the states with maintenance costs continuing to be funded fully by the states.’

In the answer provided in the Lok Sabha in July 2018,  the government mentioned that the number of eligible unconnected habitations as per the core network under PMGSY is 1,78,184 out of which the Ministry has sanctioned 1,64,913 habitations till 30th June, 2018. It is also mentioned that the States have reported to have connected 1,41,311 habitations by all-weather road till 30th June, 2018. The Lok Sabha answer also makes a mention of the roads built through State sponsored schemes and that 16,380 habitations were connected through such schemes taking the total connectivity to 1,57,691 habitations. State wise details are provided in another Lok Sabha answer. Hence, 1,57,691 out of 1,78,184 (or 88%) of the habitations which were eligible for PMGSY have been connected.

According to the details provided in another Lok Sabha answer in August 2014, out of the total of 1,78,184 habitations eligible under PMGSY, 99696 habitations have been connected by June 2014 (during the tenure of the previous government). This implies that 56% of the total eligible habitations have been connected by the time the current government took over. This proves that the numbers in the claim correspond to the percentage of habitations connected as per the target set for the period and not all habitations of the country.

Claim: Rural road connectivity increased from 56% in 2014 to 82% villages.

Fact: By June 2014, 56% of the target habitations under PMGSY were connected by roads. By July 2018, 88% of the target of PMGSY (II) have been connected by roads. Hence, the claim is TRUE. But, it has to be noted that the percentages correspond to the target under PMGSY and not the total habitations in the country.

Has the speed of rural road construction almost doubled?
The second claim is that average speed of rural road construction increased from 69km/day in 2013-14 to 134 km/day in 2017-18. The website of the Ministry of Rural Development shows that the average road length constructed per day was 69 km in 2013-14 and has increased to 130 km in 2016-17.  But this presents only half the picture.

Data from the annual reports of the ministry, the PMGSY briefing book and the answer to a question in the Lok Sabha,  reveals the following.  It is quite clear that average speed of construction was higher than 134 km/day in both 2008-09 and 2009-10. Hence this is not the first time that such speed was achieved.

Claim: Average speed of rural road construction increased from 69km/day in 2013-14 to 134km/day in 2017-18

Fact: The average road length constructed per day was 69km in 2013-14 and has increased to 134 km in 2017-18. Hence, the claim is TRUE. However, this is not a record high in the speed of rural road construction and a greater speed was achieved by the UPA government between 2008-10.

Has the length of the national highway network increased and by how much?
The third claim is that national highway network was 92,851 km in 2013-14 and it is 1,20,543 km in 2017-18. According to the annual report (2013-14) of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the length of national highways/expressways was 92,851 km. The annual report (2017-18) states that the length of national highways/expressways is 1,20,543 km. The following graph shows that the national highways network has been increasing steadily over the past years. The percentage increase in the total length of national highways during the last four years of the UPA government is more or less the same for the first four years of the current government.

Claim: National highway network was 92,851 km in 2013-14. It is 1,20,543 km in 2017-18.

Fact: The length of the national highway network increased from 92,851 km in 2013-14 to 1,20,543 km in 2017-18.  Hence, the claim is TRUE. However, the percentage increase in the total length of national highways during the last four years of the UPA government is more or less the same for the first four years of the current government.

Has the speed of national highway construction increase?
The last claim is that speed of highway construction increased from 12 km/day in 2013-14 to 27 km/day in 2017-18. Data taken from an answer provided in the Lok Sabha shows that the length of national highway constructed in the year 2013-14 is 4260 km. In a press release, the government stated that 9829 km of national highway was constructed in 2017-18. This implies that 12 km of national highways has been constructed per day in 2013-14 and 27 km per day in 2017-18. The following graph shows the change in average speed of construction over the years based on data gathered from the annual reports of the ministry and answers provided in the parliament. The average speed of construction did increase substantially in the last two years.

Claim: Speed of highway construction increased from 12 km/day in 2013-14 to 27 km/day in 2017-18

Fact:  12 km of national highways have been constructed per day in 2013-14 and 27 km per day in 2017-18. Hence the claim is TRUE

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here.

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