Im­por­tance of road In­fra­struc­ture in the so­cio−eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment: An over­view of Road De­vel­op­ment in Megha­laya.

Economic Challenger - - CON­TENTS - − Shai­lynti Lyn­g­doh

AB­STRACT

The pa­per high­lights the de­vel­op­ment of road In­fra­struc­ture in Megha­laya based on sec­ondary data and the im­por­tance of de­vel­op­ing ef­fi­cient road con­nec­tiv­ity for im­prov­ing the so­cio−eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment in ru­ral ar­eas.

IN­TRO­DUC­TION

Road is the sub­set of trans­port in­fra­struc­ture that con­nects var­i­ous places and fa­cil­i­tates com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the dis­tricts, towns, lo­cal­i­ties or vil­lages and ac­cel­er­ates the mo­bil­ity of peo­ple, goods and ser­vices as well as trade ac­tiv­i­ties. An ad­e­quate road in­fra­struc­ture net­work also pro­vides an ad­van­tage to a coun­try in terms of im­proved re­gional in­te­gra­tion, which helps to pro­mote re­gional and in­ter­na­tional trade and sig­nif­i­cantly en­hances the eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment of that coun­try.

IM­POR­TANCE

Ad­e­quate and qual­ity road con­nec­tiv­ity in ru­ral ar­eas fa­cil­i­tates do­mes­tic mar­ket in­te­gra­tion and helps ex­pand­ing ru­ral econ­omy by fa­cil­i­tat­ing mo­bil­ity of goods and ser­vices from place to place, re­duc­ing trans­porta­tion costs and im­prov­ing mar­ket ef­fi­ciency.

Pro­vi­sion of good roads re­duces wastage in case of per­ish­able items, speeds up the move­ment of goods and saves a lot of time. It thus helps in re­duc­ing dis­tress sell by the poor ru­ral farm­ers and also re­duces re­gional vari­a­tion in prices of goods. Ac­cord­ing to Del­gado et al. (1995) the avail­abil­ity and qual­ity of road in­fra­struc­ture can also in­flu­ence food prices and bar­gain­ing power of the ru­ral pro­duc­ers.

Be­sides, avail­abil­ity of good road con­nec­tiv­ity opens up em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­nity in ru­ral ar­eas, where ru­ral masses can have more choices to choose their em­ploy­ment not only within their vil­lages but move out to nearby vil­lages or towns as ca­sual labour for con­struc­tion of houses, build­ings, roads, bridges etc. Open­ing up of new busi­ness ven­tures like food/ tea stalls, rest houses and fuel sta­tions along the main roads or high­ways con­nect­ing to dif­fer­ent vil­lages or towns en­hances em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Thus, in­vest­ments on road can help the poor in a num­ber of ways, and one of the most im­por­tant is through their im­pact on the ru­ral non−farm econ­omy. For ex­am­ple, ru­ral road in­vest­ments can pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of small non−farm en­ter­prises, which in turn can in­crease the de­mand for ru­ral labour. Fan and Rao (2002) found that non−farm em­ploy­ment be­came in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in help­ing the poor in ru­ral ar­eas dur­ing the post−green rev­o­lu­tion pe­riod in many Asian coun­tries.

LIT­ER­A­TURE RE­VIEW

There are many re­lated lit­er­a­ture high­light­ing the im­por­tance of road in­fra­struc­ture in the so­cio− eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment.

The United Na­tions Cen­tre for Hu­man Set­tle­ment (UNCHS) (1985) and United Na­tions En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­gramme (UNEP) (1986) stressed the need of ru­ral roads for de­vel­op­ment of ru­ral econ­omy. Ac­cord­ing to the stud­ies ex­ten­sive, ad­e­quate and ef­fi­cient ru­ral feeder

road net­work serves as one of the chan­nels for the col­lec­tion and move­ment of goods and ser­vices, move­ment of peo­ple and dis­sem­i­na­tion of in­for­ma­tion. It helps in the ex­change of ru­ral prod­ucts as well as strength­en­ing the so­cio− eco­nomic, cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal fab­rics and pro­cesses of the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. In other words ru­ral roads pro­vi­sion forms an in­trin­sic part of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment strate­gies, serv­ing as a mech­a­nism and cat­a­lyst for ru­ral trans­for­ma­tion through the re­in­force­ment of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. Hod­der (1971), Wil­liam ( 1978) pointed out that im­prove­ment of trans­porta­tion, in­clud­ing ru­ral roads, is said to form the most valu­able as­pect of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment.

A Study by World bank (2001) showed that ru­ral roads in­vest­ment had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on So­cio−eco­nomic con­di­tions of the ru­ral masses like im­proved ac­ces­si­bil­ity to so­cial in­fra­struc­ture (schools and health cen­tres), so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and mo­bil­ity. In­creased ac­cess to mar­kets, where per­ish­able goods could be mar­keted faster and at a cheaper trans­porta­tion cost can in­crease ru­ral in­come and ad­di­tional em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

An­other study by Africon (2006) on the pro­posed ru­ral road in­vest­ment in the ru­ral moun­tain ar­eas of Le­sotho aimed to ob­tain the views of com­mu­ni­ties with re­spect to the ex­pected im­pact of the ru­ral road in­vest­ment on over­all so­cio−eco­nomic con­di­tions. The sur­vey in­di­cated that the pro­posed road in­vest­ment could po­ten­tially cre­ate sev­eral short− term em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties through road con­struc­tion, and also long term em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties through con­tin­u­ous road main­te­nance through the life­span of the road. Be­sides, the sur­vey in­di­cated that there would be a pos­i­tive im­pact on the liv­ing con­di­tions of com­mu­ni­ties in the project road area like im­proved ac­ces­si­bil­ity to work op­por­tu­ni­ties and so­cial ser­vices.

An­other study that as­sessed the im­pact of a spe­cific road project was un­der­taken by Khand­ker, Levy, and Filmer (1994). They re­viewed the im­pact of a road project fi­nanced by the World Bank in Morocco and found an in­crease in agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and land pro­duc­tiv­ity as well as in the use of agri­cul­tural in­puts and ex­ten­sion ser­vices. The road project also led to a shift to­wards the pro­duc­tion of high− value crops and an in­crease in off−farm em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. On the so­cial front, ben­e­fits in­cluded im­prove­ments in ac­cess to health ser­vices and in­creased at­ten­dance at schools.

Khand­ker (1989) us­ing a re­duced−form es­ti­ma­tion tech­nique and a panel data set cov­er­ing 85 dis­tricts in In­dia over the pe­riod 1961−81, found that govern­ment in­vest­ment in roads had a pos­i­tive ef­fect on crop out­put, ru­ral non−farm em­ploy­ment, and agri­cul­tural wages, all of which were ben­e­fi­cial to the poor. Sim­i­lar stud­ies by Malm­berg, Ryan, and Pouliquen (1997); Es­cobal (2001), and Fan and Rao (2002) have also ex­plored the im­pact of roads on non−farm em­ploy­ment and the con­se­quences for the poor. Malm­berg et al. (1997) found that in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture es­pe­cially on road and other com­mu­ni­ca­tion leads to eco­nomic growth in both farm and non−farm sec­tors, gen­er­at­ing eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion in gen­eral, in­clud­ing the poor.

Fan et al. (1999) used a gen­eral equi­lib­rium model to eval­u­ate the ef­fects of govern­ment ex­pen­di­tures in a num­ber of sec­tors −agri­cul­tural re­search and de­vel­op­ment, ir­ri­ga­tion, roads, ed­u­ca­tion, ru­ral and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, power, health, and soil/wa­ter con­ser­va­tion and found that the great­est ef­fect on poverty re­duc­tion came from roads . The study of Bal­isacan (2001) in 73 ru­ral prov­inces of Philip­pines also sug­gested that road in­fra­struc­ture en­dow­ment was the strong­est pre­dic­tor of suc­cess­ful poverty re­duc­tion. Sim­i­lar study by Kwoon (2000) in In­done­sia that cov­ered 25 prov­inces from 1976 and 1996 found that poverty was most sen­si­tive to in­vest­ments on road, fol­lowed by ed­u­ca­tion, agri­cul­ture, and ir­ri­ga­tion .

DE­VEL­OP­MENT OF ROAD NET­WORK IN MEGHA­LAYA

In Megha­laya, road net­work is the only form of trans­porta­tion that con­nects the state with the rest of the coun­try and also ar­eas within the state to one an­other. The im­por­tance of de­vel­op­ing an ef­fi­cient road net­work is paramount for link­ing the vil­lages to mar­kets in the state and out­side.

The road den­sity per 100 sq km in Megha­laya was 36.66 km on 1st April 2008 which was far be­low the na­tional av­er­age of 100 km per 100 sq km. About 60.10 per cent of roads are sur­faced and the re­main­ing 39.90 per­cent are still un−sur­faced roads. 2578 num­bers of habi­ta­tions out of to­tal 5782 habi­ta­tions in the state are yet to be con­nected by mo­torable roads.

To­tal length of Na­tional High­ways in the state is only 793.044 km which comes to 3.54 km per 100 sq km only. Out of the to­tal length of Na­tional High­way in the state 414.71 km is sin­gle lane and 41.28 km is in­ter­me­di­ate lane that needs im­prove­ment and widen­ing to dou­ble lane stan­dard. About 74 per­cent of the to­tal road length con­sists of vil­lage roads, other dis­trict roads and ma­jor dis­trict roads.

The road den­sity in the state in 2001−2002 was 426.46 per 1000 sq km (be­low the na­tional level which is 1026.24 per 1000 sq km) and 4.15 per 1000 pop­u­la­tion (above the na­tional level which is only 3.28 km per 1000 pop­u­la­tion). Though, road den­sity per 1000 pop­u­la­tion is high, but qual­ity wise it is very poor com­pared to na­tional level (NEC, Sec­re­tar­iat, 2002)

In Megha­laya al­most 50 per cent of the vil­lages still re­main un­con­nected by all weather roads. It re­flects the poor qual­ity of road con­nec­tiv­ity in the State. Ac­cord­ing to Megha­laya Hu­man De­vel­op­ment Re­port 2008 the ta­ble on the next page shows the road in­fra­struc­ture in the dis­trict of Megha­laya.

For the dis­tricts in Megha­laya, the per­cent­age of vil­lages con­nected by pucca roads has def­i­nitely in­creased since 1981. In 1991, 27 per cent of the vil­lages in Jain­tia Hills was con­nected by pucca roads fol­lowed by East Khasi Hills at 24 per cent. In the rest of the

dis­tricts only about 12 per cent of the vil­lages were con­nected by pucca roads. The other dis­tricts have a very low per­cent­age of vil­lages con­nected by all weather roads rang­ing from 10 per cent to 19 per cent.

Thus, road con­nec­tiv­ity both in terms of quan­tity and qual­ity vary across the dis­tricts and vil­lages in Megha­laya. Be­sides, there is also vari­a­tion in so­cio−eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment across many vil­lages in dif­fer­ent dis­tricts in terms of agri­cul­tural and non−farm in­come, health and ed­u­ca­tion, prices of the var­i­ous prod­ucts and wages of the ru­ral house­holds. Most of th­ese vil­lages are iden­ti­cal in many as­pects, ex­cept the ac­ces­si­bil­ity to var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties through well− de­vel­oped road net­works or com­mu­ni­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

CON­CLU­SION

The over all de­vel­op­ment of road net­work in the state is not so im­pres­sive. No doubt, there is slight im­prove­ment which needs to be em­pha­sized. look­ing at the im­por­tance of road in­fra­struc­ture in en­hanc­ing so­cio−eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in ru­ral ar­eas. So, in this per­spec­tive it is im­per­a­tive for the state govern­ment to give more em­pha­sis in the de­vel­op­ment of road in­fra­struc­ture at all dis­trict lev­els. De­vel­op­ment of ef­fi­cient road con­nec­tiv­ity is not only a pre­req­ui­site for the de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal econ­omy but it is also a ne­ces­sity to en­hance ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the ru­ral peo­ple to health care and higher ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties that are avail­able at the block and dis­trict head­quar­ters.

Thus, pro­vi­sion of ad­e­quate and good qual­ity road con­nec­tiv­ity will def­i­nitely in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and im­prove the qual­ity of life of ru­ral masses.

REF­ER­ENCES

Africon (2003). Tech­ni­cal Au­dit of feeder roads, full and ac­ces­si­bil­ity im­prove­ment works. Bal­isacan,A.M. (2001). Path­way of poverty re­duc­tion: Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and trans­mis­sion mech­a­nisms in the Phillip­pines. Pa­per pre­pared for the Asia Pa­cific Fo­rum in Poverty, Manila, Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank. Del­gado, C.L., Hop­kins, J.,Kelly, V.A.,Hazell, P., Mckenna, A. A.,Gruhn,P.et al. (1995). Agri­cul­tural growth link­ages in Sub−Sa­ha­ran Africa. IF­PRI Re­search Re­port No. 107. Wash­ing­ton, D.C.: In­ter­na­tional Food Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute.

Source: www.In­di­amike.com

Megha­laya Roads

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