While addressing an election rally on March 24, 2021, in Assam's Lakhimpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that his government had built nearly 15,000 kms of rural roads in the last five years. However, this claim is false.
The BJP government has built 12,741 kms of rural roads between 2016 and 2021, revealed a FactChecker analysis based on the official data available under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
According to the data, the target length of roads under PMGSY was 2,874 kms in 2020-21. But, a total of 2,251 kms have been completed till now. The target in 2019-20 was 5,230 kms, but 3,646 kms roads were completed. The target in 2018-19 was 5,000 kms but 4,295 kms were built. Similarly, in 2017-18, the target was 2,000 kms but 1,618 kms roads were built. Exception was 2016-17, when the target length was 750 kms, a total of 929 kms of roads were completed.
PMGSY is a flagship scheme of the central government to provide connectivity in the form of all-weather roads to eligible unconnected habitations in rural areas with a population of 500 persons and above in plain areas and 250 and above in hilly areas. The scheme was launched in 2000 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Modi also claimed that in the last 70 years (1947-2016), the previous governments of Assam had built only 13,000 kms of roads in the state. But since the launch of the PMGSY scheme in 2000, a total of 13,070 kms of rural roads were built by 2016, according to available data on the PMGSY website. So, the PM made a false claim here too.
The condition of roads have been widely criticised in local media reports in Assam. "The building of rural roads is mostly only on paper," a research organisation's director told FactChecker, requesting anonymity.
"The connectivity through highways has improved but roads in rural places and towns have not seen much improvement. Most of the road works are either slow paced or half-done because contractors stop the work mid-way," the source added.
"The train connectivity here is much better than road connectivity. The change of government has not made a huge difference mainly because the National Highway authority of India is in charge of the construction. For instance, the road connectivity with Tripura is very good, the former government of Tripura has done a good job but that's not the case with the road network in Mizoram or Manipur," the source ended.
When FactChecker went on to check the PM's third claim that 700-km-long roads have been built in Lakhimpur, it was met with dearth of district-wise data.
Government data shows a total of 393 kms of roads that were built between 2016-17 and 2018-19. However, district-wise data is only available till 2018-19. Prior to 2017, the last road work in Lakhimpur was done in 2008-09, during the UPA regime.
During the same election rally, the Prime Minister also claimed that his government built eight medical colleges in Assam since 2016. Currently there are eight fully functioning government medical colleges in the state, according to a Lok Sabha response in February 2021. However, none of these colleges were built during the Modi government's regime. So, this claim is false too.
There are six upcoming medical colleges that are either under construction or are partially functioning in Assam, according to the Directorate of Medical Education, Government of Assam.