Feature Stories



Citizen Monitoring of Rural Roads Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), India




{This article is an abridged version of the submission on “Citizen Monitoring of Rural Roads Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)” made by Mr. Rajesh Bhushan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, and Director General, NRRDA, for the South Asia Procurement Innovation Awards.}


The national rural roads development program of Government of India, “Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)”, launched in 2000, aims to provide road connectivity to 167,000 unconnected habitations in India. About 65% of the targeted 740,000 km roads, either new or under upgradation, have already been achieved. To ensure the program’s effectiveness, with citizen / user involvement in service planning and delivery, NRRDA, the national authority under Ministry of Rural Development, has also implemented a pilot Citizen Engagement program in 7 Indian States, defining the responsive role of citizen / user in PMGSY, from construction to maintenance of the rural roads constructed.

The pilot program involves identifying volunteers and their capacity building, developing a citizen-friendly toolkit to test various basic parameters of roads, IEC leaflets on awareness, and the role of citizen in monitoring and training modules. “Meri Sadak”, a mobile app launched to enable users to give their feedback regarding the pace of works, quality of works etc. using photographs and simple data entry, has had more than 500,000 downloads in 3 years. The inclusion of citizens in the PMGSY has paved the way for promoting self-sustainable rural road asset management, better contract management, and better service from contractors during the five-year defect liability period.


Government of India launched the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY – Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Scheme) in 2000 to provide connectivity to Unconnected Habitations, as part of a poverty reduction strategy. According to the latest figures from a survey to identify the Core Network as part of the PMGSY program, about 167,000 Unconnected Habitations are eligible for coverage under the program. This involves construction of about 371,000 km of roads for New Connectivity and 368,000 km under upgradation. So far, 493,300 km of road works have been completed under both the categories. The PMGSY Program is implemented under the aegis of National Rural Roads Development Authority (NRRDA), Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India.

PRIs or Panchayat Raj Institutions and the local community are involved in identification of the networks to be constructed and upgraded. This facilitates involvement of users, citizen community, and all stakeholders in Government programs at the lowest level and makes PMGSY a sustained initiative across sectors. The emphasis of this citizen engagement is to bring in an aspect of ownership among local communities. Using the “Meri Sadak” mobile app, users of PMGSY roads can also contact the Nodal Departments in State Governments / NRRDA and give their feedback on the pace and quality of road works. According to Google Play Store, total downloads of “Meri Sadak” Mobile Application crossed 500,000 by December 2016. In addition, the overall increase in reviews rose from 718 to 7,508 in its three-year period, demonstrating the success of NRRDA’s efforts.

Challenges Addressed

The pilot program faced many challenges during design and development due to the diversity in target rural population across the country:

  • The most significant challenge addressed was establishment of a unified process / methodology of responsive involvement of citizens in PMGSY across the country.
  • Another major challenge in defining a responsive citizen engagement process in PMGSY was the need to create awareness among citizens on their role in construction and maintenance of rural roads, and capacity building of identified volunteers on technical aspects in a much simpler way.
  • Addressing the issue of reaching out to ordinary citizens with technology was also a significant challenge.
  • Willingness of the political system is one significant concern, which draws limitations in implementation of various programs.
  • Finally, women’s participation is one serious issue the program addressed, particularly the anticipation that women need to travel to different places.

Impact Generated


Inclusion of citizens in the PMGSY has paved the way for promoting selfsustainable rural road asset management. The major benefits from citizen engagement in terms of monetary and non-monetary terms are as follows:

  • Though the Government nodal department is in-charge of the quality of construction and maintenance, impact on road condition and maintenance due to involvement of citizen monitoring led to in-time corrective measures, thus reducing depreciation of assets.
  • Constant monitoring and persuasion to maintain these roads keeps them in a serviceable condition during all seasons.
  • This led to empowerment of citizens from the grass-root level. With requisite technical knowledge, citizens are now able to also address technical issues. It has empowered women and ordinary citizens in monitoring the rural roads of PMGSY and similar projects in their locality.
  • The engagement led to huge sustained increase in connectivity to markets, healthcare and education centres, and local area headquarters.
  • Vigil of the community ensures adept monitoring of rural roads in their region.
Innovations in the Solution

The innovativeness of the solution was in developing, testing, standardizing, and piloting in two phases over 3 years (a) Simple citizen-friendly toolkit to capture and analyze data during construction and in maintenance. (b) A methodology for selecting Citizen Volunteers. (c) Data sheets for reporting. (d) Comprehensive training module including audio-visual and hands-on components in the module, considering the socio-economic-educational background of volunteers. (e) Developing master trainers on this.

The “Meri Sadak” mobile application developed is so simple and hassle-free that rural citizens have been able to embrace this technology and provide feedback on condition of roads. Inclusion of ICT has made it effortless to establish a healthy information cycle, from citizens to authorities and vice versa.

The tools developed and practices enabled data collection and reporting through a simplest process, which can be easily undertaken by an ordinary citizen. Making citizen as an asset in the system of PMGSY, which brings in benefits across sectors in rural development, was another innovation that directly contributed to more effective Social Audit processes in many other grassroot-level programs. Above all, this has efficiently and effectively brought in transparency and accountability into the system of rural roads.

Scalability and Sustainability

This process of citizen engagement can be replicated in all similar rural roads’ projects. “Meri Sadak”, the mobile application, is a state-of-the-art Citizen Feedback system that can be taken up as a redressal system for infrastructure. Capacity building by the program at grassroot level organizations, like Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) and Women Self Help Groups across the country, has built a critical mass of empowered stakeholders for any developmental efforts of the Government. Since the Indian sub-continent has a varied socio-economic status across geography, this system of citizen engagement can be easily adopted by developing countries in their programs. The ability of the program to instill ownership of roads within the community ensures sustainability of this monitoring system.


Lessons Learned

Ensuring effective contract management of rural assets by involving and empowering community is the most significant lesson from PMGSY experience. Citizen engagement in monitoring of these roads has led to a more systematic maintenance of roads as well as quality assurance during construction and maintenance of these roads. The five-year Defect Liability Period (DLP) under the contract makes the contractor responsible for maintaining the constructed road in a serviceable condition for 5 years post construction. However, it has been found that contractors were not responsible enough in maintaining these roads.

Participation of women was found to increase when their involvement was sought for assets in their proximity. As training of volunteers through Master Trainers took place in the respective village itself, there was increased women participation. This ensured that the volunteer group had a mix of both genders.

Citizen engagement in monitoring was found more effective when technology was used in the simplest way for data collection and analysis. Access to technical data on Online Monitoring Management and Accounting System (OMMAS) regarding the respective road of their village made it easier to monitor the roads during construction. Use of “Meri Sadak” mobile application to upload pictures easily as evidence when reporting has made the application a real-time monitoring tool.