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Despite well-developed highway network, transportation a pain point in rural Gujarat

Dasarath Rawal runs an eatery on the outskirts of Gandhinagar, Gujarat. He travels 80 kilometres from Idar every day to set up his stall at 8.00 am. Mode of transport? Whatever is available.

The Vadodara-Ahmedabad Expressway and several other highways in the region, provide good connectivity between Gujarat and neighbouring states such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan. But, the options are limited in the interior towns.

Rawal said that he often takes lifts from strangers as it helps him reach on time and is cheaper. His wife, who works at a construction site at Bhetali, is forced to walk back home almost 15 kilometres if she is unable to find a mode of transportation.

“What is the use of roads if the government is unable to pay heed to the woes of the lower economic class? We cannot afford to hire private vehicles,” Rawal added.

In cities like Surat, Vadodara and Ahmedabad, intra and inter-city transport is fully functional. But the pain point is in the interiors.

Highway thefts are common. But villagers said that there is very little option. Those working in construction sites for large companies get a drop facility to a common point, but smaller units do not provide such facilities.

The textile, roadways and real estate industries are the largest providers of jobs in Gujarat. While many workers from Uttar Pradesh and parts of West Bengal have migrated, local workers prefer residing near the factory unit or establishment.

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Shafiq Yadav, a worker at a wiring company in Halol said that he travels 30 kilometres each day for work.

“We (a group of workers) get a ride on bikes or cars every day. It is not affordable to rent a house near the plant so we have to take the risk,” he added.

While multi-modal transport is being planned in places like Surat, those in the outskirts feel left out.

Bhavesh Pujari, a 37-year-old Ahmedabad resident, who has set up a manufacturing unit near Kachrol said that he prefers to stay near the factory because driving is the only option to reach there.

“The bus service is negligible and the frequency is not very good either,” he added.

This election, in which Gujarat has already voted, Pujari, Rawal and several others are hoping that the transport worries of locals are resolved in a quick and efficient manner.

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