India loses $10.8bn annually due to traffic congestion – study

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View of a traffic jam between Nashik and Mumbai in India. Photo - Yann/Wikimedia

Grappling with the fall of rupee, inflation and political turmoil, there seems to be no abating of crises in India. According to a recent study conducted by the Transport Corporation of India and IIM (Kolkata), India faces a loss of Rs 600bn ($10.8bn) a year due to congestion, slow speed of freight and waiting time at toll plazas.

This study covered operational efficiencies of freight transportation and revealed India’s freight volume’s annual growth stands at 9.08%, vehicles at 10.76% but road length is increasing at only 4.01% which has resulted into dearth of road space and accommodation of vehicles.

The study took corridors like Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Guwahati into consideration and put the blame on the waiting time at toll plaza. Lorries, trucks and vans have to queue for hours to get past the toll checkpoints mostly at state borders. Most freight vehicles complain long journey times, delays in reaching their destination and poor rest services.

The report said a freight travel from Mumbai to Delhi has at least 18 stops while the average stoppage leads to a delay of 3 hours. Similarly, 7% of stoppage is due to toll plaza. Similar delays were also found on Delhi-Bangalore stretch.

The study covered 17 major routes and found that the national average of fuel mileage is only 3.96 km per litre, while only mere 3.44km on the Delhi-Nagpur stretch.

However, the study also revealed that the average stoppage delay has drastically come down in 2011-12, compared to 2008-09. Many truck drivers say it is because of the expansion of highways taking place.

However, S P Singh of the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training, rubbished claims of delays at toll plaza and road conditions.

“You have overloaded trucks and fatigued drivers since transporters often deploy only one driver per truck against the norm of two drivers on a long trip. All these result in reduced average speed. So, transporters and logistic companies cannot pass their own failures on to the road network and toll plazas,” he said.

Presently, India is fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) and is just behind to China, US and Russia. Though India has promised of bringing down emissions, it seems it would outclass Russia to reach the third spot. In fact, some experts have also warned that India will be in second spot if proper steps were not taken.


The picture grimmer in countries like Germany which is facing huge economic loss due to traffic congestion. German motorists spend almost 234 million hours a year in traffic jam which leads to the loss of 3.5 billion euros per year.

According to Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner, of University of Toronto, change in driving behavior of drivers is causing increasing traffic congestion.

Even though there has been more road development taking place, the congestion problem doesn’t come to an end. The reason behind this is the attraction of more residents and more drivers plying on better roads.

Toronto is facing a similar situation where $3.3 billion are lost every year. A report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2009 revealed that billions of dollars are lost every year.


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