LIFE

A votary of public transport

"The heavy subsidies provided for suburban travel should be stopped. The Railways should only retain core services and outsource non-core services."  

THE PUBLIC transport system should be encouraged, especially in the major cities of the State, for reducing congestion on roads and preventing accidents, checking atmospheric pollution caused by automobiles and checking proliferation of private vehicles, says the founder director of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, N.S. Ramaswamy.

Six two-wheelers, four three-wheelers and two cars occupy the same space as a bus. Buses are less polluting when compared with two, three and four-wheelers and can carry more passengers and loads. The goal of quick transportation and curbing accidents can be attained if the public transport system is encouraged, says Prof. Ramaswamy, who was here recently to attend the Global Eco Meet.

Prof. Ramaswamy, who has over 50 years of experience in various fields such as management, productivity, appropriate technology, rural development, environment and animal welfare, is of the view that the Government should go in for heavy taxation of private cars so that their use is discouraged as has been done in China and Singapore.

More trains should be introduced for enabling the commuters to move swiftly from one city to another. Trains are safer and cheaper for long distance travel while buses are the best option for those commuting short distances. The development of inland waterways also needs to be taken up in the State as only 20 per cent of it is being utilised now, he says.

A former advisor to the Parliamentary Committee on Railways, Prof. Ramaswamy says the Railways need intensive development and modernisation and these can be achieved only if it is corporatised. "The heavy subsidies provided for suburban travel should be stopped. The Railways should only retain core services and outsource non-core services."

Taking into account the experience gained from the railway lane to Guruvayur, he says the authorities should desist from commencing the Sabari railway line, as the traffic will only be seasonal. "The funds can be used for improving the public transport system and for introducing more buses to the pilgrim centre," he added.

Prof. Ramaswamy feels that although 25 per cent of the State's GDP comes from Non-Resident Keralites, the State Government is not doing enough for their welfare. He is against building the Expressway from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod and instead suggests a hub-and-spoke public transport system through which local areas can be networked to the main routes. Belonging to Thrissur and settled in Bangalore, Prof. Ramaswamy is the director of the Centre for Action, Research and Technology for Man, Animal and Nature (CARTMAN). He has designed a rubber-bonded steel wheel cart for rural and urban applications. He says these carts enable the bullocks to work more with less effort. Prof. Ramaswamy was involved in setting up the Institute of Management in Government (IMG) in the capital during the 1980s. He is not happy over the mushrooming of business schools in the country. "Those who pass out from these schools and the Indian Institute of Managements set up in the country go to irrelevant sectors. Management should be relevant to the State and society should benefit from it," he says.

He feels the IMG has failed to upgrade the managerial skills of the Government officials. "No serious research work is done at the institute now and no steps are taken to address the issues facing the State," he adds.

Photo: S. Mahinsha

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