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Transportation Metro Mania gripping India: Expert By Jaya Raj, New Delhi

As in many parts of the world, population in Indian cities is growing at a rapid rate, accel- erating the pace of urbaniza- tion. Besides the increasing density of the existing cities, formation of new urban ag- glomerations is pressing new solutions to the commutation needs that are increasingly linked to livelihood earnings and economic levels. Cities in India are expected to account for 70 percent India’s GDP by 2030.

Until the last two decades, there were only four or five large cities in India that had serious urbanization and tran- sit problems. But today a new trend of small towns exhibiting characteristics of populous metros has emerged. That is straining the transport infra- structure every where with even C-type towns clamouring for mass transpiration systems like the metro rail.

The Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), along with the knowledge solution part- ner KPMG brought together the stakeholders including the government agencies in the India Urban Transport Summit 2012 to make a market as- sessment of the situation. It reaffirmed the need for finding more efficient, sustainable and

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reliable public transportation solutions, not only in the large metros, but across all popu- lous towns.

India’s burgeoning urban population, currently reckoned at 377 million at 31 per cent of the total population, is expect- ed to rise to over 40 per cent in the next two decades. This creates a huge onus on policy makers and the government to provide urban mass transit solutions and calls for ap- propriate funding mechanism, safeguarding the environment and speeding up land acquisi- tion for transportation projects, says a FICCI-KPMG Report ‘Getting Urban Transport on Track’.

Despite significant develop- ment of all transportation modes over the decades, transport capacity has not developed adequately in India. This has led to increasing congestion, asset deterioration and high energy consumption, pollution and accidents. More- over rural areas have inad- equate connectivity hampering rural economic growth.

The transport system compris- es a number of modes like the railways, roads, air and ship- ping. The Summit favoured de- veloping the capacity of each mode in a balanced fashion for

ensuring harmonious develop- ment of the overall transport system. This includes an ap- propriate mix between private and public modes of trans- port so as to optimize energy consumption and efficiency. Choice of transport modes is also influenced by pricing of hydro-carbon fuels apart from adequacy and efficiency of transport services.

Dr. Rakesh Mohan, Chairman, National Transport Develop- ment Policy Committee, who delivered the inaugural ad- dress at the Summit, decried the “metro mania’ that has gripped urban transport policy planners. He said the “metro and rail-based urban transport projects were the most capital intensive of options and may not necessarily be beneficial in terms of lifetime energy costs”. Dr. Mohan favoured restrict- ing metro projects to cities with over 5 million popula- tion and added that all urban transport costs, including metros, should be borne by cities themselves through user charges and fiscal imposts.

The NTDPC chairman said at present planning and in- vestment decisions were based on incomplete data. Consequently, the resultant infrastructure may not actu- ally address multi-dimensional

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