Special Research Topic
Poverty and Development

Project: The socioeconomic and environmental impact of Konkan Railways

Project Duration

12/2016 - 01/2019 (finalized)

Commissioned by

International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)

Project Team (RWI)

Dr. Gunther Bensch (Chief)

Cooperation

Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Summary

The Konkan Railway was built in order to cater to the longstanding demand for a railway line through the Konkan region in Western India. It is the biggest railway construction endeavour in independent India and the first railway service in the country to provide an intermodal freight transport service titled the Roll on Roll off (RoRo) service. The construction of the Konkan Railway began in 1990. A number of political and environmental controversies later, the complete line of 760 km became fully operational in 1998. The proposed study seeks to evaluate the socioeconomic and environmental impact of the Konkan Railway and to assess its contribution to low-carbon and sustainable development in India. To quantitatively measure the socioeconomic and environmental effects of the Konkan Railway a quasi-experimental design using a difference-in-differences approach is applied. An Instrumental Variable (IV) approach is additionally used to test the robustness of the difference-in-differences results. The analysis relies on secondary data, with the environmental impact being based on advanced remote sensing satellite data on land cover features such as water bodies, vegetative cover, crop land, and built-up area. Developing countries still face a large transport infrastructure gap. The transport investments they make today will lock in development patterns for decades to come. World-wide railways are being promoted as an environmental friendly mode of transport. India too is in need of efficient and sustainable transport infrastructure which can not only meet its developmental imperatives but also help in transitioning to a sustainable and low-carbon future. In this context, this study is expected to contribute towards the debates on relaunching railways because of environmental concerns. It can aid in understanding how developing countries can evolve their transportation policy in a manner that minimizes environmental damage, energy consumption while achieving economic development and improving people’s wellbeing.

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