Thursday, 3 March 2016

Punjab, best in country in surface transport: CMIE Report

Punjab, best in country in surface transport: CMIE Report

Haryana and Gujarat surprise by being among the worst in the country

Railways and roadways are the two most important arms of infrastructure of any state. Greater connectivity and consequently greater mobility of goods and services enable prosperity. India’s railway density is about 20 km of railway tracks per thousand square km of area.

West Bengal and Punjab are the top two states in terms of railway density with a density of 44 km and 42 km, respectively. Railway density is nearly twice the national average in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh - the next two states in the pecking order. It is the lowest in Jammu & Kashmir, in the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and in the largely forested Chhattisgarh. Kerala tops all major states in terms of density of roads. At 5,178 km, its road length per thousand square km of area is well over four times the national average of 1,174 km. West Bengal and Assam are the other two states with a high density of road network. States with low road density are Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Punjab has combination of quality & quantity

Punjab has the best combination of quantity and quality of transport infrastructure. First, its rail density is high at 42 km per square km of area. Second, 91 per cent of its roads are surfaced. It boasts of the highest proportion of surfaced roads among all major states. This is in spite of the fact that over 70 per cent of its roads are rural roads. Third, its overall railway tracks and roadways density ranks fairly high at 4 out of 20.

Gujarat and Haryana surprise us by their poor ranks in terms of this basic infrastructure of railway track and road length. Only Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand are worse off than them. All three states are largely less inhabited and covered by forests. The poor reach of railways and roads in these three states is, therefore, partly understandable. Only partly, because Jharkhand’s large natural resources and Madhya Pradesh’s central location in India gives them reasons to reap benefits of their natural advantages by setting up better transport facilities. But Gujarat and Haryana turning out to be worse than Bihar, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh is the biggest surprise in this ranking. 

Haryana’s proximity to Delhi and Gujarat’s proximity to Mumbai have created fairly busy transportation corridors. The Delhi-Jaipur corridor cuts across Haryana and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor has been an old, busy industrial corridor. But these advantages have evidently not been able to offset the poor transport facilities in the rest of Gujarat and Haryana. Besides the busy industrial corridor in southern Gujarat, its large number of sea ports would have warranted a more dense surface transport network. But the state has failed on this count.

Punjab has maximum surfaced roads

Punjab tops the major states and it is followed by Maharashtra, which ranks eighth in terms of the railway track and road length per unit area and population. But barring Punjab, all the other states above it have a much lesser share of surfaced roads. In Maharashtra, 83 per cent of the roads are surfaced. Tamil Nadu would be a close third with 82 per cent roads being surfaced.

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