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ESSAY : Proper Infrastructure for growth
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Tuesday, 09 July 2013 10:56


 

Proper Infrastructure for growth

 

“Proper Infrastructure is the base for rapid development of an economy. The development of infrastructure is calling for expansion, technological modernization, scientific tuning”.

Our county needs good roads, better transport facilities, better railway reliable air travel, more telecommunication linkage, better facilities at ports, better and sufficient power supply, planned urbanization, housing and particularly in respect to rural area, basic infrastructure of road, power supply, education and water etc.

India is a country of one billion people out of which 70% people live in rural area. It is strange that even after fifty six years of independence the shape and form of the rural sector have not changed prospectively. Lot of many problems of metro cities is the result of lack of infrastructural facilities and job opportunities in rural area. The increasing number of slum areas in metros is the result of no unemployment for the rural mass. Despite progress made by the country in various fields like communication, manufacturing, industrial segment, space technology, information technology and the rural sector has not made any significant progress. The planning has since been oriented towards the development of infrastructure in cities industrial areas, even then the rural segment remain far behind in growth parameters.

Things are not so pessimistic and bleak. Slowly and steadily improvements are taking place. Infrastructure facilities are being developed. The newly laid down expressway between Mumbai and Pune that has narrowed the distance and reduced the travelling time from seven hours to just two and a half hour. We are pruoud of the sleek and modern international airport at Nedumbassery near Kochi. The various flyovers being constructed in Delhi will positively reduce the problem of transportation in the metro.

With strong political will and determination, everything can be achieved. Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee announced on Oct 14, 1998, the construction of North-South, East-West corridors. The task force setup by the Vajpayee government decided on the National Highways Development Project (NHDP). The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) is approximately 6000 km National Highways, connecting New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai, if completed as per schedule, that will solve the long felt problem of easy and fast approach between the Metros. The North-South and East-West corridors are approximately 7500 kms long. Kashmir to Kanyakumari approximately 4000 km with a spur to Kochi; silchar to Porbander- 3500 km schedule to complete by Dec 31, 2007. In April 2000, the government approved several other projets along with NHDP with total outlay of Rs 4000 crore, if completed in schedule timing without further cost escalation shall facilitate the export/import cargo from the hinterland.

The total cost of NHDP is Rs 54000/- crore at 1999 price level. The government is trying that all projects under NHDP are completed well in time. All time high profile road infrastructure helps not only in saving time but also reduces cost of fuel and maintenance cost of vehicles. According to world bank study at 1999 prices, there would be a saving of Rs 8000 crore per annum on the Golden Quadrilateral alone.

Though the NHDP is positively a step forward in infrastructure development, yet a lot of work is to be done in the development of state highways and other roads. There are many roads poorly built and poorly maintained due to shortage of funds and corruption at every level. Corruption is so flagrantly rampant in all kinds of civil construction work that more than 40% of the funds allocated for the purpose are misused by the officials in connivance with the contractors.

India. Needs new airports for Navi Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and others. Economic viability and feasibility reports have since finalized. Government is considering to start the work in joint venture. As regards power India needs around 31000 MW of power under Greenfield Projects upto 2007. According to the Union Minister for power, the projects are either under construction or at a very advanced stage of planning and that will definitely be completed within the 10th plan period. As per the Minister beside 31000MW addition in the 10th plan, 40,000 M and 51,000 MW are to be added further at a later state. The minister said that India would require Rs 800,000 crore investments for adding another 100,000 MW of power capacity over the next years out of which government expects Rs. 80,000 crores from the private sector or Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

The approach of the 10th plan considers the decline of railways revenue from the transpiration is because of some policy distortions, like overcharging freights in order to subsideise ordinary passenger fair. Moreover the investment strategy of railways put more emphasis on opening new lines for passenger traffics and no care to tap the area which has potential of commercial traffic. The decisions are based on political needs. The commercial angle is given second thought. This resulted into alarming deterioration in the financial condition of the railway and so unable to undertake investments o improve railway transport services. Railway has always suffered from overstaffing. The approach paper says; the aim should be that staff cost including pension remain within the level of 45 percent of gross traffic receipts upto the year 2010. This will imply that the staff will have to be reduced to around 12 lakh and maintained at that level.

Railway plays an important role of national integration. Travelers of any caste or creed are sitting together at least for the time being during journey, forgetting all animosity. Railway can’t be made fully commercialized, but it can’t be a burden on the exchequer. There should be a neat blending of both aspects.

Development of infrastructure is the basic requirement for the rapid growth of the Indian economy. The present government has taken care to provide road communication in the vast countryside. The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) launched on Dec. 25, 2000 seeks to provide road connectivity through good all weather roads to all unconnected habitants having a population of more than 1000 persons by the year 2003 and those with a population of more than 500 persons by the end of tenth plan period, i.e. 2007. Portable water still remains a luxury for most villages. An investment of about Rs. 35000 crore has been made in the water supply sector so far. According to official sources, 1235759 rural habitants have been fully covered gy the provisioning of drinking water facility. So far 166832 villages have since been covered. Under the Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana, it is proposed to tackle the water contamination problems, like fluoride, arsenic and iron contamination.

Under personal hygiene, cleanliness of the home and environmental sanitation all hinges on personal attitude, awareness, education and economic status of the families. The concept of sanitation was expanded in 1993 to include the personal hygiene, home sanitation, sage water, garbage and excreta and waste water disposal. The programme was further restructured from April 1999 and greater emphasis has now laid on community involvement under what is called total sanitation campaign. Till 2001, 8777543 toilets have been provide under this programme at a cost of Rs. 156917 crore. In rural housing sector, Centre government sponsored scheme of Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana (Gramin Awass), Credit cum subsidy cheme for Rural Housing and Samagra Awass Yojana are in operation.

A comprehensive self employment programme entitled Swaran Jayanti Gram Swarojagar Yojana ws launched on April 1, 1999, with an aim to develop large number of micro-enterprises for individuals or groups or self help groups.

Despite all the rural development programmes, rural India is in a malign state. The most challenging task is to check the misappropriation of funds meant for the rural development. With corruption becoming an integral part of governance from Panchayat level upwards, the real impact of different schemes for the development of rural segment is not insight. A nexus between ‘Babus’ politicians and contractors take away more than 60% of the funds meant for the development.

Had the funds meant to develop the rural segment would have been utilized for the actual cause the growth of India economy might have reflected a more flourishing state. The efforts put by the government for the development of infrastructure in rural area are required to be strengthen further. Without proper infrastructure the pace of growth of Indian economy can’t be accelerated.

Infrastructure does not mean just the development of roads, railways and air traffic or power etc. it will be folly to ignore any single component in either economic or social infrastructure. They are complementary in nature. The development of infrastructure needs involvement of not only the government agencies, but also the private sector, the NGO’s and the heartily involvement of the people at large. Without foundation of necessary infrastructure, how can we think of building and edifice of economic growth?



 

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