Economy

Highway to development

Our New Delhi Bureau | Updated on April 03, 2012 Published on March 06, 2011

Higher income from non-agricultural activities, improvement in school enrolment and higher participation of women labourers in the workforce are some of the benefits that strengthened highways bring to the rural areas.

These are the findings of a recently-concluded Asian Institute of Transport Development (AITD) study — conducted over an eight-year period on stretches of the NH2. These benefits are seen across a minimum area of four-five km on either side of the roads. “The immediate net benefits of the upgraded highway mostly relate to improvement in access to work and educational opportunities. Large-scale public investments in road infrastructure development can be an effective and viable policy measure for improvement in the well-being of the rural population,” concludes the study.

SOCIAL IMPACT

While strengthened highways did help achieve gender parity through higher school enrolment among girls, immediate changes were not visible in the skewed sex ratio. In specific terms, the study points out that there was a whopping three-fold increase in the share of income from non-agricultural activities and an 85 per cent increase in participation by women workers. It also found there was a two-fold increase in the per capita trip rate (average number of trips per person per day) for education.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

“Greater opportunities for employment and earnings in non-farm activities are generated. Access to education and health facilities improves. Household incomes rise, and so do asset holdings,” says the study. But though there is an improvement in almost all aspects of household well-being, including poverty reduction, the benefits are not uniformly spread, spatially and across economic classes.

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Published on March 06, 2011
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