Sunday, May 27, 2007

The state of Indian Roads

This weekend my family and I travelled 610 Kms(380 miles) by bus saturday night and after spending the day in Shirdi came back by the same bus sunday night (enlarge the map and look for Hyderabad and Shirdi). The bus journey was 12 hours each way and terrible for my back. I used to take such trips pretty frequently and it never bothered me, maybe I have become too American, or am looking at things from a different perspective. It did make the plight of Indian roads pathetically clear to me. Except for the undeniable fact that cities are bursting at their seams, 60 Kms outside the cities everything is just barren land. People are as dirt poor as before, and the Gods are as dominant as ever. It was single lane traffic (both directions) most of the way. Sure, much of the route does not need more than one lane there isn't much traffic. However, these roads are in terrible need of repairs. They are potholed most of the way and my poor back felt every single one of them. There were several private toll roads and I was surprised that even these were in disrepair. Goes to show that there is much corruption even in the private sector. Accountability is the key issue, and people just seem to be happy with things the way they are. We did cross a small section that was part of the Golden Quadrangle project, even that stretch wasn't great, and these roads are new and this whole project consumes several billion dollars. These roads are the lifeline of the country and that is painfully obvious. Civilizations begins and ends at these roads. The National Highway routes were built in the 50s and 60s just about the time when the US Interstate system was being built. There seems to have been no planning for future traffic patterns. Now reclaiming lands along these routes that are sprawling with squatters is proving to be politically tricky. The highways need a complete revamping and the solution does not lie with the government. It is high time road routes are taken off the critical sector list so that private companies can come in and develop the sector.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Having been to Hyderbad for my wedding...my wife and new in-laws were amused by my observation that I couldn't tell the differnce between buildings being torn down and those being built. They were used to it. But, it was strange to my American mind.

I stop by every now and then. Thank you for the blog.