Monday, June 23, 2008

Put railways, inland waterways in the driving seat

Dipankar Bose reports in Business Line two crucial issues that India faces, the soaring crude price and urban congestion and the transport sector may have an answer to the problems. He talks about the NESW corridor being developed at huge cost of rs 60000 crores. He argues to say tht roadways should be complemetary and not supplementary to Railways. In practice, however, the opposite is the case. He further says,

"A detailed study by the Planning Commission found that barges of 1,500 tonnes with a load of 75 per cent moved on inland waterways consume 46 per cent of the energy consumed by diesel rail traction and only 7.4 per cent of the energy consumed by diesel trucks.The state of the waterways is certainly better than earlier, but it is still far from satisfactory."

He concludes by saying "Thus, a shift in emphasis away from national highways to the railways and inland waterways for long haul of bulk goods and to the State highways and the district roads for short haul can reduce the nation’s oil import bill and urban congestion. (The author was formerly Senior Economist Assocham, New Delhi and M.N. Dastur & Co. Ltd, Kolkata.)