Complete information on the Classification of Roads of India


The Nagpur Plan (1943) has classified Indian roads into four categories, viz., National highways, State highways, District roads, and Village roads.

1. National Highways

National Highways are those major roads whose construction and maintenance are the respon­sibility of the Central Government. These roads with total length of 65.569Jem connect the state capitals, ports and important cities and constitute the vertebra of India’s road transport system. Al­though these highways constitute only 4.53 per cent of the total length of surfaced roads in the country, their share in the total roads traffic is nearly 40 per cent.


To streamline the country’s transport system the Central Government assumed the responsibility of the construction and maintenance of certain im­portant roads after independence which was termed as national highways under the National Highway Act of I956. Accordingly 4,624 km of roads called missing road links, 552 major bridges and 3,029 minor bridges and a number or culverts were con­structed up to 31 st March, 1998 to complete the net­work. Besides the widening and strengthening sin­gle lane to double lane was done on 25,214 km; widening to four-lane completed on 718 km; and strengthening of weak two-lane pavement was com­pleted on 14,573 km (up to 31 March, 1998).

The Government has also taken external loans from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Over­seas Economic Cooperation Fund to improve these highways. A list of some of the important National Highways of the country is being given in Delhi-Ambala-Jalandhar-Amritsar 456

The state wise distribution of national high­ways is much skewed. There are six states (Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan) in which the percentage of national highways varies between 7.23 to 10.12. In another four states (Assam, Bihar, Orissa and Karnataka) this percentage lies between 5.04 to 6.25. These ten states have more than 72% length of the national highways of the country.

Table 25.IV also exhibits state wise length of national highways per hundred square km of area and per lakh of population. In former category union territories like Chandigarh, Pondicherry. Delhi and the state of Goa come on the top while in latter category similar position is enjoyed by Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Manipur. In both these categories the road- length is low in case of large and densely populated states like Uttar Pradesh. West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat (Table 25. IV).


2. State Highways

State highways are constructed and main­tained by the state P.W.Ds. These provide link to all major towns and cities of the state and are the main arteries of passenger and goods movement. In 1999 the total length of state highways was 137,950 km of

which 135,679 km was surfaced (98.35%). Among the states Maharashtra has the longest network of state high ways followed by Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and these five states together have 62 per cent of the total state highways of the country.

India : State wise Length of State Highways, 1999


Sikkim Tamil Nadu Tripura Uttar Pradesh West Bengal Union Territories Andaman & Nicobar Islands Pondicherry Dadra & Nagar Haveli

3. District Roads

These roads mostly connect the towns and large villages with one another and with the district headquarters. Formerly most of these roads were unsurfaced and lacked bridges and culverts. But now these are being converted into surfaced roads to improve the rural accessibility and pave the way for economic development.

The construction and main­tenance of these roads lie with Zila Parishad and the P.W.D. In 1999 these roads had a total kilometrage of 12, 58,321 of which 63.71 per cent were in the form of PWD roads and remaining 36.19 percent as Zila Parishad roads.


4. Village Roads

Village roads are constructed and maintained by the village Panchayats. The category includes village panchayat roads, CD/Panchayat Samiti roads and rural roads constructed under Jawahar Rozgar Yoj na. These roads are narrow, zig-zag and unsurfaced and are not suitable for heavy mechanised traffic.

Their condition worsens during rainy season when these are converted into muddy chess pool. Up to 31st March, 1999 the country had a total length of 14, 87,754 kms of such roads, which is about 58.90 percent of the total road-length of India. Only 11.72 per cent of these roads were surfaced. Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana efforts are being made to im­prove rural transport net work and provide all- weather road linkage to all villages having a popula­tion of 500 (250 in hill, desert and tribal areas) or more.

5. Border Roads


The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) was set up in 1960 for the development of roads of strategic importance in the northern and north-east- 0.13 3.06 0.10 6.85 2.48 0.24 0.04 0.03 border areas of the country. It has so far con­structed 31,934 km of roads and surfaced 38,783 km of roads.

It is also maintaining about 25,500 km roads in the border areas of the country. In 1997-98 the organisation completed the construction of Zojila- Cargill art the Manali-Sarchu-Leh roads which is the main supply line for forces stationed in Siachin Glacier region. The organisation has been entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the Pathankot- Jammu-Srinagar-Uri National Highway. Recently it has taken up the task of constructing 1,038 km roads in nasality-affected Gadchiroli and Bhandara dis­tricts of Maharashtra; four laning of NH 1A from Pathankot to Sri Nagar; 9 km long Routing Tunnel; construction & fencing of roads along Bangladesh border; constructing and maintaining road in Bhu­tan; and the development of Tamu-Kalemyo-Kalewa road in Myanmar.

It has also taken up the responsi­bility of strengthening of runway of the Naval Air Station, Goa and the fourlaning of 20 km road leading to the Marmagao port in Goa.

6. International Highways

Under the agreement with the Economic and Social Commission on Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) some of the country’s highways linking the neigh­bouring countries have been declared international highways.

These are of two types ; (a) main arterial routes linking the capitals of the neighbouring coun­tries-(i) Lahore-Amritsar-Delhi-Agra-Kolkata- Golaghat-Imphai-Mandalay, (ii) Agra-Gwalior- Hyderabad-Bangalore-Dhanushkodi, and (iii) Barhi- Kathmandu; and (b) routes joining main cities, ports etc with the arterial road network-(i) Agra-Mumbai road, (ii) Delhi-Multan road, (iii) Bangalore-Chennai road, and (iv) Golaghat-Ledo road. The world 3ank provides finance for the maintenance of these roads.

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