Better roads reduce illness, claims Norway-India study

New Delhi, Dec.17 : Better roads reduce illness. This is one of the conclusions from a Norwegian-Indian research project funded from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in India through the INDNOR programme in the Research Council of Norway.

The study undertaken by Clive Bell and Susanne van Dillen in collaboration with Magnus Hatlebakk (CMI) focus on the PMGSY-road scheme in the Indian state of Odisha.

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched on December 25, 2000 as a fully funded Centrally Sponsored Scheme to provide all weather road connectivity in rural areas of the country.

The programme envisages connecting all habitations with a population of 500 persons and above in the plain areas and 250 persons and above in hill States, the tribal and the desert areas.

In this specific study, the authors found that one km improved road gave 0.46 less days of illness.

The average improvement was 3 km road, hence a reduction of 0.46 x 3 = 1.38 days of illness on average across population in the villages, including those not sick. Taking into account that only about one third of the population is suffering from some kind of heath problem, the reduction is more than 4 days per three kilometers of improved road (1.38×3=4.14) for those with illnesses. The main reason for this is that improvement of roads gives easier access to healthcare, and hence a reduction of days suffering from illness.

This particular paper is part of the project Agrarian contracts and rural poverty in India conducted between CMI in Bergen, Norway and Institute of Economic Growth, India, led by Dr. Magnus Hatlebakk.

The final dissemination seminar held on December 15th in Institute of Economic Growth was inaugurated by J.K. Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Rural Development, and Norwegian Ambassador to India Nils Ragnar Kamsvag.

It presented results from five papers related to employment and consumption loans, sources of livelihood and inter-temporal mobility, migration, remittances and changing patterns of livelihood and Usufruct mortgages as a source of funds in need. (ANI)