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Scrutiny
 
INDIAN TRANSPORT: UNSAFE CONNECTIONS
Can we Move Out at All?
India’s Traditional Transport Systems Including Road, Rail, Air and Water never got their due Importance from Successive Governments.
Issue Date - 17/02/2011
 
The very essence of the phrase ‘national priority’ often gets diluted due to the number of times it is used, reused and misused in our country. It’s almost as if everything is national priority depending on how hyped up it is at a particular point in time. In that context, it is indeed debatable whether reforming and modernising India’s transport systems, including road, rail, air and waterways, were ever ‘national priorities’ in the sense that we expected it to be. On both technological advancement and security, India’s transportation systems seem to have fallen way behind when compared to our economic progress. And the gap is only increasing with time.

Indian Railways, which spawns across the nation connecting almost all cities and towns, is still awaiting modernization and suffers from many shortcomings. During the last 20 years, Indian Railways added merely 1,648 km, which is less than 90 km per year. Given the population size, we have very less rail route length per capita. According to the Centre for Transforming India, when it comes to roadways, New Delhi saw a mere 20% increase in road length and an alarming 132% increase in vehicles, which has led to a congestion cost of Rs.40 billion per year and a loss of 2.5 productive hours every day in Delhi alone. And this is the state of the capital; one can imagine the plight of the rest of India.

The aviation sector is yet to see a major breakthrough when it comes to profitability. Air mishaps, errant pilots and lousy safety procedures not only make our airways unsafe but have also made flying a literal fly-by-wire experience at times. And to top it all, how can one ignore the fact that India’s sea routes are so porous and corruptly policed that it took a 26/11 terror attack for the nation to take notice. Things can only change for the better if transport safety truly becomes a national priority in its true essence.

 

Sray Aggarwal and Akram Hoque of The IIPM Think Tank           

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