Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday announced a slew of road building projects aimed at improving connectivity and amenities in rural areas. Among them was the government’s intention to lay 1,000 km of plastic-bitumen roads and the Rs 100-crore improvement, upgradation and construction of amenities such as health centres, community halls, anaganwadis and play grounds. She also announced the institution of a Rural Roads Maintenance Project aimed at bridging the shortfall between the present needs and plan allocations.
“Roads play a critical role in rural development. Rural Development and Panchayat Department is in charge of 7,4981.29 km of rural roads. The maintenance of these roads in a motor-able state is critical. Allocations for these works have so far been insufficient because they come under ongoing plans. To address this, and thereby enable good maintenance of roads in panchayats and panchayat unions, the Rural Roads Maintenance Project will be instituted at an allocation of Rs 400 crore,” said Jayalalithaa.
She added that her government would leverage the twin benefit of economy and a solution to the problem of plastic wastes by expanding its plastic roads project. “In the last two years, my government has laid 1,254.3 km of plastic roads at an expenditure of Rs 153.25 crore. This year, my government will take steps to lay 1,000 km of bitumen roads mixed with plastics. While we have so far used 917 metric tonnes of plastic, we are expected to use 1,000 metric tonnes this year,” said the Chief Minister.
She also told the Assembly that 97,000 works have been taken up under the THAI Scheme, which uses the rural habitation of the smallest block for rural development planning. Apart from this, the construction of 45 panchayat union offices and 416 panchayat offices had been taken up at a cost of Rs 110.64 crore. The government had estored 12,796 derelict rural women’s health centres at a cost of Rs 170 crore and also taken up the restoration of 36,320 elevated drinking water tanks, 3,416 ground-level tanks and drinking water pipelines, of which 13,954 works had been completed, Jayalalithaa told the Assembly.
She announced that the government would replace old offices of 25 panchayat unions and 200 panchayat councils at a total cost of Rs 70 crore.