The Infra Deficit: Impeding India's Growth
By Prakash Patil |
10/11/2010 1:30 PM Monday
There is an infrastructure deficit in India and people are impatient and angry with the lethargic ways of the Central and state governments. The roads in cities and metros are overflowing with traffic, the skies above metros too have air traffic jams with aircrafts hovering above awaiting clearance to land even while planes on the ground move in queue awaiting their turn to takeoff. Similarly, the ships can be seen stranded out in the sea, waiting for their turn to get a berth at any of the major ports in India. So the circle of congestion on land, air and sea is complete! But this is not all. A large part of India, especially small towns and villages in rural areas, have to do without electricity for 1016 hours every day! India’s infrastructure of roads and highways, airports, ports and electricity is falling woefully short even as traffic on roads and highways, air and sea is burgeoning and demand for electricity is growing exponentially every day. The huge infrastructure deficit in India today can hardly inspire confidence in India’s aspiration of becoming the superpower of tomorrow.
So why is there such a huge deficit of roads and highways, airports, ports and power in India. For this, we need to understand why these infrastructure segments of roads and highways, airports, ports and power have not been able to keep pace with development in other sectors of the economy.
Why The Deficit?
To wipe out the deficit in infrastructure, the BJP-led NDA government under the stewardship of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had launched its ambitious 5,846 km Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) project in 1999 and had also planned to launch the 7300 km NorthSouth & EastWest corridors later. The GQ project had made great headway during the Vajpayee government’s tenure. But after the Congress-led UPA government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took over in 2004, the GQ project virtually languished during the first 5-year tenure and the project still remains to be completed even after almost two years of the second term of the UPA government. There is nothing to boast about the NSEW project’s implementation. Hence, instead of decreasing, the infrastructure deficit has increased.
But, of course, the huge infrastructure deficit is not a 5 or 10-year phenomenon. The deficit has accumulated over the years since Independence when, after the exit of the British, our founding fathers in their wisdom decided to chart a socialist path for our country. As covenanted by the socialist ideology, the government took it upon itself to develop all physical infrastructure in the country, including roads and highways, ports, airports and generation of power and, as mandated by the socialist ideology, the infrastructure space was kept out of bounds for the private sector. But the government’s obligations to meet the objectives of equity and social justice through welfare schemes and social spending to uplift and empower the underprivileged sections of the
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