Regional

Road net work key to Himachal Pradesh development

May 06, 2017 10:57 AM

Punjab News Express/Y.S. Rana
CHANDIGARH: Himachal Pradesh is the first hill state that realize the importance of roads as a catalyst of economic transformation and has a different story to tell. Undercurrents of change can be witnessed across the state. The agent of this sea-saw change is road network. While the building blocks of ‘inclusive growth’ were put in place in 90s, the cumulative impact of policies and factors became evident with the onset of 21st century. The planners and policies makers realized that roads were the backbone for high and equitable growth and can make the state an out performer.

Its first chief minister Dr Y.S. Parmar had always repeating at all meetings “paharon mein sirf sadak de do, rajya ka vikas apne aap ho jayega” (provide roads in the hills development in the state will follow on its own). Dr Parmar doggedly pursued his prescription that has been taken ahead vigorously by Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal. Every chief minister carries a tag by which he is known. Dr Y.S. Parmar is known as the “Architect of Himachal Pradesh”; Shanta Kumar is nicknamed “Water CM;” and Prem Kumar Dhumal is known for spreading network of roads in the state and tagged as “Roads CM.” Roads have made one of the most backward hill states was reckoned as the most impressive model of development in the country.

While speaking to HTW, Mr R.K.Verma, chief engineer, who looks after World Bank road projects in the State said that nine projects of 10 initiated by World Bank assistance have completed. He further said that the World Bank had sanctioned a loan of Rs 281million in 2007 for expansion of road net work in the state. Of this amount 90 per cent has been spent. He further revealed that over 4,000 kms road would be converted to double-lane. The department has a target to construct 1800 kms road in 2017-18. He admitted that road network made the state to outperform in literacy, per capita income, healthcare, industrial, agriculture growth and left its neighbouring States behind. He also revealed that all districts of the state well connected with roads for all economical, social and religious purposes.

Himachal Pradesh is an example of development how getting the road development priorities right in the first place could turn out to be the key driver to fast-track growth. And, if Himachal Pradesh at present stands out as a state that has outperformed its potential both in physical and social development, it is not merely a flash in the pan but it has been achieved by constructing roads. State tourism now is singing a different hospitality tune. Notably, there has been a surge in the number of tourists coming to the state.

The official of the Superintending Engineer (Works), Shimla, said that from having just 288 kms of roads in 1948, the state today has a road network of 25,399 kilometer metal led roads with road density of over 61 per cent per square km of area. There are nine national highways with total length of 1250 km over 60 major district roads with total length of 1754. He has also revealed that over 60 per cent of villages have been provided road connectivity. He further disclosed that the State has 17,449 villages and so far 10,350 villages have been connected with metalled roads.

Notably, up to 43 per cent during the first four Five-year Plans spent on building roads and in fifth, sixth and seventh Five-year Plans, power sector became the priority and state achieved 100 per cent rural electrification and heading towards 100 per cent road connectivity, the target which the neighbouring states have yet to achieve.

Road connectivity to tribal areas is one of the major steps taken buy the state government for its economic development. Due to poor accessibility of these areas remained unknown to outside world and isolated from rest of the State. Kinnaur was opened with construction of national highway in 1960 and with addition of link roads. Lahaul was made accessible with construction of Rohtang Pass.

As per official records, Bilaspur tops the list of road connectivity of villages. Over 72 per cent of its villages have been connected with roads while district Kinnaur has the lowest road connectivity of villages with 26.61 per cent. As per official records, Lahaul and Spiti have more village road connectivity (44.72 per cent) compared to Shimla—state capital—which has road connectivity of 44.6 per cent. With road connectivity, enabled the state government went on whole hog on social infrastructure, enabling the State to invest as much as 45 per cent of the eighth and ninth Plan budgets on schools, health and rural water supply. In nutshell roads net work is the key driver of all round development of the State.EOM

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