ASSOCHAM for regulatory body for transport sector

NEW DELHI NOV. 24. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has suggested setting up of regulatory commissions for roads, ports and inland waterways on the lines of regulatory bodies established for power and telecom sectors.

The Chamber president, R.K. Somany, suggested these measures to counter the weaknesses in the market mechanism in dealing with provision of infrastructure services and facilitate improvements in the tradability of infrastructure service by making appropriate institutional changes and grant of managerial autonomy to public sector undertakings.

The body also recommended that in view of an integrated transport network, an independent national transport board be constituted as a regulatory body for the sector.

Further, a separate legislation needs be enacted to create a dedicated fund for the development of highways and the outflow from this fund should be outside the purview of Parliament and Public Investment Boards. This would overcome procedural hurdles and reduce time involved in transferring the revenue from the Consolidated Fund of India and also stop the diversion of revenue collected from roads to other sectors.

Mr. Somany said a review of the tendering system and related process is called for to make it more transparent, time bound and equitable. The development of inland waterways infrastructure, he said, should be the total responsibility of the government, which should step up the investment on the development and maintenance of the infrastructure.

Efforts should be made to identify stretches that have high cargo-carrying potential on the waterways. Considerable potential exists on the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly and Brahamaputra waterways.

In order to overcome the navigational hazards, better navigable conditions should be created, and to increase the safety and efficiency of IWT vessels, the waterways should have sufficient navigable depth (approx. 15 metre) and width (approx. 45 metre) so that larger vessels with higher draft can navigate on the waterways throughout the year.