Delhi-Mumbai Expressway – driving towards multi-pronged virtues

The newest push to India’s road transport infrastructure is the recently inaugurated Delhi to Jaipur stretch on the 8 lane, 1,386 km long Delhi-Mumbai Expressway (DME). The entire expressway is to spiral across 15,000 hectares and will reduce travel time between the two cities from 20 hours to 12 hours only. It will link manufacturing clusters in 6 key Indian States in the north and west, namely Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra – making it the longest in the country. The project has been receiving much enthusiasm and anticipation in the industrial and trade centres.

In India’s journey to become a logistics and manufacturing hub, this access controlled greenfield expressway will work towards the transformation of India’s road transportation network, and overall the supply chain sector. Fuel accounts for majority of the operating cost of a truck with average mileage being around 4 km/litre (fully loaded). Industrial units in Sohna, Manesar, Palwal and Alwar have anticipated reduced travel time and distance as a result of the expressway, which will further minimise time and cost overruns. This will, in turn, make the goods manufactured in these clusters, like auto components, biotechnology, chemicals, pharma, engineering goods and textiles, more competitive in the days to come.

Travel time for commercial vehicles on the Delhi-Jaipur route is expected to reduce from around 5 hours to around 3.5 hours only. Additionally, the economic and industrial clusters on the route will benefit from increased connectivity and easier access to new markets, thereby improving trade prospects. Also, it will result in higher demand for commercial and industrial real estate along the DME.

For instance, Arun Kumar, whose enterprise near Alwar manufactures spare parts for large generators, his transportation costs will come down by a minimum of 10-15 per cent. “First, we get trucks at cheaper rates. The second thing is that currently it takes three-four days for the components to be delivered at a company’s doorstep in a place like Vadodara. This time will easily come down by 50%,” said Kumar, who traveled on the DME to get a feel of travelling on the new expressway.

While inaugurating the 247-km Delhi-Dausa-Lalsot section of the DME, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about multi-pronged benefits of investment in infrastructure. He said that when investments are made in highways, railways, ports, airports, optical fibre cables, digital connectivity, construction of pucca houses and colleges, “every section of the society is empowered”.

Akshay Purkayastha (Intelligence and Analytics Director, Crisil) said the expressway will smoothen traffic flow between key consumption and manufacturing clusters between Delhi and Mumbai, vis-à-vis the golden quadrilateral (NH-48). “It will lead to better connectivity for exports and imports as well as domestic trade,” he said.

Another pain point that the DME will work towards is reducing the logistics cost. Considering a fall in travel time and fuel expenditure, and coupling it with increased connectivity will ultimately play a part in reducing India’s logistics cost to the government’s single digit target. It will also improve supply chain planning and inventory optimisation.

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