India’s traffic woes hurting its economic growth: Chinese media
Of late, Chinese media Global Times has been carrying a lot of pieces focusing on India. While at times, it has stressed on China's cooperation with India against US protectionism, at other times it has emphasised on China-India cooperation on natural gas supply.
On Tuesday, May 15, Global Times came up with a report which cited Central News Agency which in turn spoke about a report by Boston Consulting Group saying traffic jams in four major Indian cities - New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata - lead to an annual economic loss worth 1.47 trillion Indian rupees ($21.81 billion).
"Traffic congestion is also a huge obstacle to India's industrial transformation and economic development," the Global Times report said.
It said although the Indian economy has grown fast in the recent years, the traffic condition in the country is very poor.
Explaining the reason for this menace, the Global Times said the first reason is poor urban planning. It said India does not have a household registration system and the country's government has no restrictions on people's movement. Land is a private commodity and any site which is being used for a long time is considered a property of its user. It said even farmers can freely use land in cities and their movement to the urban centres has led to a population explosion there and transportation issues.
The report said as the second reason for India's transportation problem is a "serious shortage in infrastructure". It said in 2015, India had around 90,000 kilometres of highways but only around 1,000 kilometres had fully sealed sections.
It also pointed out the poor condition of roads that impedes vehicles' speed; overloading issues and frequent accidents on roadways and highways. According to the report, India's transport infrastructure has remained inadequate to cater to the demand created by rapid economic development.
The third reason for India's traffic woes, the Global Times said, is "cultural inertia and weak awareness of traffic rules". It said animals roam around on roads freely because of religious reasons and that hits the transportation flow, resulting in an inefficiency.
The report said the causes of India's traffic woes are "manifold, complex and deep-seated" and finding solutions for them would be time-consuming even as the problem continued to harm India's economic development.
The Global Times prescribed an improved urban planning, expansion of transport infrastructure which it said is often stalled by lacks of funds and land acquisition issues. It said only making plans will not help India's cause and it will require involving more international forces and blend its own resources to see betterment of the infrastructure projects. It also spoke in favour of economic reforms like the goods and services tax.
Overall, India's economic growth will face difficulty if its transportation problems are not solved, the report concluded.