UPA on the Road to Perfidy

Perfidy is not a term used in normal conversation. But then there are certain times when you feel even the strongest words are not enough. It leaves you struggling for much stronger words when you have already used up the strongest words available in the dictionary.

Perfidy is the quality or state of being faithless or disloyal. If we say the UPA is well down the road to perfidy it looks a little odd. But this Government has not only squandered the good will of its well wishers but is also using all its propaganda machinery to make people think that it is doing a good turn to them. Take the case of Surface Transport.

I understand the effect that roads have had on * Civilization as we know it* But at the same time we should also realize that with the proliferation of personal vehicles, the roads have become too congested, fuel consumption has gone up to unsustainable levels. Crude is at all time high. A country like India dependent on imported crude is also losing the war on Balance of Trade resulting in weakening of currency and consequent rise in prices.

But how is the common man and transportation part of this? Those reasonably old would remember times when roads were less congested, public transport was used by the rich and powerful. My father used to work for “Permanent Magnets” in the late 1950’s. Kantilal Desai, son of late Morarji Desai was the MD of the company. Whenever he wanted to visit the factory, he used to take the local and the car would pick him up at the local station. Compare this with today’s world where a single trip becomes a photo-op.  The net effect of these has been that not only has the number of vehicles on road has gone up exponentially but also that there is no sign of reversal of same. I used to take the public transport whenever i could. Note the past tense. Period.

The UPA has a highly publicized program to address this – you guessed it – Jawaharlal Nehru national urban blah blah. you tire out by the time you cross the mandatory Nehru Gandhi name.

While passenger transport is the minor problem, transport of goods is the major problem. As somebody who regularly traveled between Madras and Ranipet from early 70’s to around 2004. It is not known to most people that this stretch was the third oldest in the country and probably all of Far East. The Thana line opened in April 1953, was the oldest. The 121 mile stretch between Howrah and Raniganj in Bengal completed in February 1855 was the second. The 64 mile stretch between Madras and Arcot (Ranipet actually) was the third. This was ready by 1856. This was to feed the tanneries started by the East India Company. The process is called EI tanning. The sulphuric acid plant started then still survives as part of EID – Parry.

The dominance of Bus owners ensured that passenger trains were never run between Ranipet and Madras. In any other country, there would have been enough locals shuttling between ranipet and madras. But on the other hand we had only the long distance trains covering this. So road transport which was never safe, consumed much more fuel per head transported was the only option available.

Similarly on the Goods transport front. The added trouble was the pilferage on materials that this allowed. Petrol / Diesel is a mixture of various distillates of crude. The chemicals that were pilfered could be profitably disposed as alternate to petrol. Which i strongly suspect was the case of *Ramar Pillai*. All this made it necessary for the powerful lobbies to keep the railways low key.

This resulted in the Ranipet Railway station being closed as not viable. This was a big disappointment to those like me who were sentimental about these things. But atleast the NDA government brought an Integrated surface transport policy. The idea was to use roads and railways in such a way that goods moved fast but in an efficient manner – most importantly fuel efficient. Arakonam, an important railway junction was to be the hub. Full truck loads cut be put in containers and sent from ranipet to a suburb of kolkata thus – truck from ranipet to arakonam, train from arakonam to kolkata and then again by truck to the factory door. Private entrepreneurs had invested in land. logistic companies were willing to do the work. Everything was falling in place. But the Government changed. We are still hoping somebody in this government would dust the old files and read them.

After years of waiting all I can say is something centuries old, repeated recently by Yashwant Sinha – Oliver Cromwells’s famous – Go for God’s sake. Go!

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