Arunachal Pradesh is an economically backward state with a sparse population. Located at the foothills of the Himalayan range of mountainous tracks ranging from the foothills to the snow capped mountains in the easternmost part of India; the development of its road infrastructure was taken up recently. During the pre-Independence era, no importance was given to development of road infrastructure except for a few stretches located at strategic points along the border.
The villages are scattered in between the hills and hillocks; the construction of the road network connecting these villages has always been a yeoman's task. Natural phenomena like landslides, washing-away of road formations, bridges and culverts because of the large number of rivulets that appear with tremendous force during the rainy season, deposition of boulders, grit, etc., make it especially difficult for the development of the road infrastructure.
The importance of link roads connecting villages to the towns and district headquarters, which are the only means of communication for ushering development in every sphere of development activities, was realized long ago by the Government of India, but not much headway could be made due to a resource crunch. The Rural Works Department has been entrusted with the task of constructing link roads to all the villages in a phased manner ever since its inception as and when resources of the government are available.
The network of roads is planned so as to connect to as many villages as possible thereby catering to the needs of a maximum number of rural people. Villages with a greater population are considered first. At present, the department is taking up construction of rural link roads (RLR) up to a length of 15 km from the nearest main road, in accordance with the decision taken by the state government.
First, fair-weather roads are constructed and these are gradually converted into all-weather roads in a phased manner by providing WBM and carpeting/black topping, etc. depending upon the priority accorded to the road and availability of funds. The department also undertakes construction of minor RCC/steel bridges for better connectivity in the rural areas by replacing timber bridges in a phased manner depending upon availability of funds. In addition, the department also takes up construction of suspension bridges, mule and porter tracks.
Initially, activities under the RLR sector were taken up under Minimum Needs Programme (MNP) and later were shifted to the Basic Minimum Services (BMS) programme. In 2000-2001, a new programme, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), was introduced for providing new and improved roads for better connectivity in the rural areas.