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Transport Infrastructure: Way Forward

  • Trend in transport demand profile: increasing share of road transport & personalized transport – need to reverse the trend towards more environment friendly transport modes like rail & water. Bcoz though road transport contributed to GDP growth during 2000-07 (NHDP, PMGSY) the impact on energy & envi & safety is far from desirable.
  • Transport (T) – international & domestic – ports & airports are gateways for export/import traffic.
  • T – freight & passenger – 70% of economic value generated from freight
  • Major concern of T infra planning is the non-availability of authentic data. Last scientific sample survey based study for freight transport was conducted in 2007-08 by RITES. Hence need to put together a mechanism for a more scientific & periodic collection of data for railways, roads etc in electronic means
  • National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC) – tried to estimate overall freight traffic until 2031-32 by using a growth rate of 1.2 times the GDP growth rate. This multiplier is questionable bcoz earlier traffic growth has not exceeded GDP growth rate & 60% of GDP has service sector.
  • Need to ­ share of rail T from 35% to 50% & ­ modal share of water, pipelines has to sustain their share – bring these envi friendly modes to at least 20% and this reduce road share to 30% leading to significant savings in carbon impact.
  • To ­ rail share need to address
  1.            Customer orientation
  • ­ Separation b/w infra & services – clearly define the roles of the authority who is infra provider & service provider – also requires commercial regulator.
  • Open up container service to private sector
  1.             Capacity enhancement from both
  • Additional modernized infra like DFC
  • Extracting more from the existing network through improved signaling & infra
  1. In context of passenger – ­ing speed for interregional movement is essential e.g. by Dedicated High Speed Corridors which would be a game changer in terms of connectivity.
  • Issues – though envi friendly in terms of carbon impact, open discharge toilets & solid waste disposal system were far from envi friendly practices. Hence need a holistic approach to tackle those problems.
  • Roads
  • Need 4 laning of all regional corridors
  • Expressways in high density corridors
  • Rural roads developed under PMGSY have contributed to rural connectivity. Still needs to penetrate beyond villages to settlements & should be motorcycle friendly as motorcycle ownership ­ (30% of rural households own motorcycles)
  • PPP route of road development should continue to be emphasized with appropriate funding, land acquisition, envi clearances.
  • Trucking sector – biggest concern for it is ‘corruption & harassment’ from various regulatory authorities & other commercial deterrents are roadside facilities, electronic tolling etc. avg productivity of trucks is low nut has potential to ­ by making each journey faster & more efficient reuse of trucks after each journey by internet based platforms offering a market place e.g. application based taxis.
  • Road safety – poor in India; better road engineering, roadside support for emergency assistance needed. Recent initiative of having tree plantations on land adjacent to highways need caution bocz acc to many international studies trees are the biggest killers during accidents – this is significant as we are trying to ­ the avg speeds on roads.
  • Pipelines
  • Largely driven by petroleum companies & are used as captive infra e.g pipelines for coal slurry, iron pellets and conveyer belts in mining areas.
  • There is opportunity for more pipeline usage when vol justifies the investment
  • Coastal
  • Opportunity to ­ share of costal transport given India’s long coastline
  • Issues that have held back the usage of this mode are
  • Hinterland connectivity
  • Cabotage
  • Customs
  • Taxation & duties
  • Berth availability in larger ports
  • Recent initiatives at easing policy regime & encouraging coastal transportation came
  • Provide subsidy based incentivisation in early yrs to build the market
  • 95% of international freight traffic vol handled at ports but still there are opportunities to reach world stds in terms of automation & evacuation.
  • India is well placed for developing transshipment ports on both coasts but legal & regulatory issues have delayed projects. Hence need better policies for commercial & security clearances.
  • IWT
  • Seems to be big opportunity but needs significant investments to make it a viable mode of T
  • India missed the boat of industrial revolution since by time modern T came to India, rail & road were already viable means of T
  • Combinations of coastal and IWT have scope for coal movement from mines to thermal power plants. (rivers in Goa, Ganga)
  • Aviation
  • Growing reasonably with ‘open skies’ policy for airlines
  • Need air service fund to promote smaller aircrafts
  • Safety – needs to be improved to world class levels
  • Issue – whether air navigation services should be separated from airport mngt of AAI to provide focus & to ensure that there is no conflict of interest b/w navigation & airport mngt.
  • In terms of international traffic, airports provide the face of India. Hence need to provide world class stds e.g. like Delhi, blore, hyd, Mumbai. Having a hub airport for international transit passengers would be imp for India but transit b/w domestic & international segments is more imp. None of our major airports are truly integrated in terms of handling such transit passengers
  • Conclusion
  • Most T movement is multi-modal both for passenger & freight
  • Most imp structural problem at highest level is that we have multiple ministries focused on their own modes of transportation. This does not lend to multimodal perspective for transportation. Need structural reforms to help integrate policy making across the ministries.
  • Issues like creation of logistic parks, GST have significant bearing on streamlined transportation.
  • Need regulatory framework for T infra development which addresses licensing, envi impact, safety, security, dispute resolution.
  • Directions for infra development should be driven by 5 ’S’s – speed with sustainability, safety, security & stresslessness.