Govt seeks depts report cards to blunt Oppn

The “night watchman” prime minister has refused to duck the Opposition bouncers and decided instead to serve a few volleys powered by facts and figures. 

To counter the Opposition criticisms, the UPA government has directed different ministries to compile reports highlighting their achievements. The figures will be compared with the performance of the BJP-led NDA government.

The National Highway Authority of India under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways may be the first to prepare the report. It is likely to  claim that its performance was better during the UPA regime from 2004 to 2013, as against the NDA reign between 1998 and 2004.

The report aims at blunting the BJP’s claim that more kilometres were added to the national highways and roads in rural areas under the Vajpayee government.

The ministry, headed by C P Joshi now, faces flak for the tardy progress in road development. The road ministry has faced severe criticism for the tardy progress in work in the current financial year since contracts for only 871 km were awarded till February, as against the target of 8,000 km.

The report is likely to highlight that a total of 2,360 km of roads were built during the NDA regime, while the UPA government constructed 16,540 km of roads between 2004 and 2012.

Though the NDA implemented the much hyped Golden Quadrilateral and East-West Corridors, officials from the road ministry claimed that these projects were small in terms of stretch. The present government has added more kilometres and converted one-lane stretches to two lanes and two-lane stretches to four lanes, a ministry official told Deccan Herald.

The 5,846 km Golden Quadrilateral project was pitched as the country’s largest highway project and featured among the world’s longest stretches. It was launched in 2001 but completed in 2012, said the official. 

All ministries have to submit reports to the Prime Minister’s Office, which will compile them. The agriculture ministry has claimed a record food production of 257 million tonnes in 20011-12, crediting the outcome to schemes implemented by the UPA government, while the Rural Development Ministry is going gaga over the highest ever spending on social sector.

Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh furnished facts and figures in the Rajya Sabha and claimed that his government’s spending on the social sector was higher than the NDA government.

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