The road to …… roads

Look at what Praful Patel has done to the civil aviation sector in under four years.  And LPY with the Railways in even less time.  But what’s the use of Patel facilitating new and refurbished airports and Laloo upgrading railways, if we will not have proper roads to get to these airports and stations.   Across the country, roads are worsening by the day – make that hour.  In Bangalore, if I try to read an SMS message in a moving car, my optical power goes up by +0.25 per month.  A camel ride is probably more comfortable than moving in a Mercedes on Indian city roads today.  Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have better roads than us.  Why, even aircraft shiver on our tarmacs.

India consumes an unnecessary 16+ million litres of fuel per day because of very poor road quality (supplemented by resultant choking of traffic).  That’s Rs.650 million per day, or Rs.237 billion p.a. at today’s cost (let’s assume Rs.350 billion in 5 years on the conservative side). The cost of building world-class roads (with associated infra) is about Rs.1200 million per square kilometre.   With 32,000 of roads in the country (excluding unpaved rural roads), that’s a whopping relaying cost of Rs.38.4 trillion.  However, revamping and upgrading them to required standards can be achieved with Rs.23 trillion.  Thus, we will not only save Rs.350 billion p.a. in wasted fuel costs, but also another Rs.770-odd billion p.a. in unnecessary maintenance costs (resulting from bad roads).  This total saving of Rs.1120 billion p.a. is 4.87% p.a. on the capex of Rs.23 trillion.  Is it worth it, for sustaining 10%+ growth per annum in GDP?  Well, we’ve got intelligent economists at the helm of our country.


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