The Indian government's push towards sustainable transportation is about more than policies and initiatives; it's a journey towards a greener, more accessible future. With the launch of key initiatives like the National Electric Mobility Mission 2022 and the FAME India Scheme, India is revolutionising its transportation sector.
The spotlight, however, extends beyond the national level. Odisha, an eastern Indian state on the Bay of Bengal, has set the wheels in motion for the Location Accessible Multi-modal Initiative (LAccMI).
The initiative, launched in October 2023 aims to provide affordable and accessible transport services to rural inhabitants of the state. The scheme will connect local villages to the state capital with a plan to operate 1,745 buses and an allocated budget of US$380 million for the initial three years.
For many rural communities that rely on public transportation to access schools, healthcare, and jobs, the initiative will provide critical direct connectivity to nearby cities, saving money, time, and energy.
Palladium India, as the implementation partner for the Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC), actively engaged in every phase of the project’s launch, from conceptualisation to the implementation of the scheme.
“LaccMI aims to make travel affordable and convenient for rural communities, enabling them to access essential services and opportunities in nearby towns and cities,” explains Deepak Samantaray, Associate Director, Palladium India.
“The reduced travel time will bridge the gap between remote regions and urban centres. Considering the limited rail network in some hilly areas, these buses will play a crucial role in connecting residential areas with commercial, industrial, and cultural establishments.”
Samantaray adds that the initiative is involving and employing women from local self-help groups. “These groups will not only act as conductors on the buses, collecting fares and maintaining cleanliness, but will also promote women's empowerment and community welfare.”
The LAccMI scheme is expected to improve connectivity for over 62,291 educational institutions and create more than 37,652 direct and indirect employment opportunities. It is projected to generate over US$541 million in income over the next five years. “This scheme underscores Odisha Government’s unwavering commitment to serving the people of Odisha and fostering inclusive development,” adds Diptesh Kumar Pattnayak, IPS, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, OSRTC.
The initiative aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by contributing to the goals related to economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production.
Beyond supporting local communities, adding more accessible transportation could be the key to unlocking the region’s untapped potential for rural tourism, linking sites like Bonda Hills, known for its tribal culture and natural beauty, and Mahendragiri, a pilgrimage site for Hindi devotees
“By bridging the connectivity gap, LAccMI will break down the barriers that have kept rural communities isolated and marginalised for generations,” adds Amit Patjoshi, Palladium India CEO. “Accessible transportation for rural communities is not just about connecting people; it's about unlocking opportunities. It ensures access to essential services, fosters economic growth, and promotes social integration, creating a pathway for inclusive development and empowerment.”
The team is hopeful that rural communities will see the myriad benefits that come with increased access to quality education and more accessible healthcare services for women and children.
For Pattnayak, this is only the beginning. “As we look ahead, our shared vision is to further expand and make this scheme a huge success, reaching even more communities and delivering enhanced accessibility to all corners of our vibrant state."
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