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National highways need efficiency boost: Report

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A recent report on road infrastructure has highlighted that there is serious to boost the efficiency of the National Highway system. The report titled ‘Operational Efficiency of National Highways for Freight Transportation in India’ was presented by the Transport Corporation of India Ltd (TCIL), in association with IIM-Calcutta.
The report finds that road freight volume is projected to grow to 1,200 BTKM and goods vehicles requirement will increase to six million in 2011-2012. It has been estimated that approximately Rs. 2,25,000 crore ($45 billion) would be required as financial outlays for developing and maintaining national and state highways during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012). The report also suggests that construction of more logistics parks, SEZs and transportation hubs will create common shared facilities for logistics providers, ensuring safety and security of people, assets and cargo.
Prof. Subrata Mitra, the report’s author said, “In India, we should adopt a system similar to the TIR Carnet system prevailing in Europe that requires no checking of sealed consignments at interstate check posts to facilitate the smooth flow. In developed countries there are no check-posts on highways and vehicles move freely across state borders. The taxes are collected either at the origin or the destination and not en-route which saves a lot of time for passage of high value items. The same system can be adopted at interstate borders in India doing away with check-posts and saving all that delay time for time- sensitive shipments.”
The research report was commissioned by TCI to assess the operational efficiency of freight transportation by road vis-à-vis investments made in national highways. Under the study, data from ten major routes of India was analysed and weighed against key freight transportation statistics of international countries.
Unveiling the report, Brahm Dutt, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said, “Logistics and supply chain forms the backbone of Indian economy and the sector’s efficiency depends on the condition of roads and highways to a large extent. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is aggressively working towards removing bottlenecks and implementing efficient procedures for highway construction. We are optimistic that this will provide the much needed support to the logistics sector, which is poised to grow leaps and bounces in next years.”
Highlighting the demand-supply mismatch, DP Agarwal, VCMD, TCIL, said, “Between 2001-09, vehicular fleet in India has increased at 9.4%, whereas the National Highway network has grown by 2.4% only. Due to inadequate road infrastructure, which results in lower average trucking speed, commercial vehicles in India average 250-300 per day, whereas the counterparts in developed nations travel more than double the distance. This highlights the need for government’s initiatives and investments towards extending, widening and upgradation of highway network. Road transportation should be given an industry status so that the transporters can avail the benefits of being part of an industry. Construction of more transportation hubs and logistics SEZs should be initiated to create more common, shared facilities for transporters.”
The TCI-IIMC joint study report highlights the problems faced by the transportation sector and suggests recommendations for transporters and the Government as to how to mitigate the problems and contribute to the economic growth of India.

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