Useful notes on the mighty road transportation system of India


(1) National Highways:

They link state capitals, major ports, cities. Government of India as per 1956 Act constructs and maintains these roads. These are 2% of the total road length of the country. They transport or handle 40% of the volume of road traffic.

(2) State Highways:


They connect different parts of a state and the state capital. Their length is 1-4 lakhs km. The state Government is responsible for construction and upkeep.

(3) District Roads:

They connect villages and towns in a district with one another and with district headquarters, length is 11 Lakh km. Zila Parishad looks after the roads.

(4) Village Roads:


They link villages with district roads. Length is 6 Lakh km. They are Katcha road (unsurfaced) not motorable in rainy season.

The road mileage in India has witnessed an accelerated pace with time, need and agricultural, industrial development and increase in passenger traffic and increased connections between the rural and urban centres. From 4 lakh km in 1950-51 road length has touched 23-3 lakh km mark.

A road map of India presents interesting readings. These are regional variations in road densities in the country.

(1) Newly developed oil, mining areas in Gujarat, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana states have more road length per 100 square km.


(2) Roads are scanty or least developed in hilly and mountainous states like J & K., H.P Uttranchal, North-eastern states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Sandy tracts in Rajasthan and marshy areas of Kutchch in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa states fall in this least dense network of road density. In these states, road construction has been handicapped by a variety of reasons.

(1) Sandy (Rajasthan) conditions

(2) Marshy saline (Gujarat) conditions

(3) Thick Vegetation (forest) (Chhattisgarh, M.E)


(4) Rough and inaccessible and remote parts of (J & K, H.E, Uttaranchal and Purvanchal, parts of Gujarat, MI| Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, and north-eastern states) also fall in roads least developed category. These interior parts of the states have less population; have least economic development and various unfavourable geographical environments, thus not favourable for construction of roads.

Roads in India carry nearly 60% of passenger traffic and 35% of freight traffic.

International Highways

Roads which connect India with its neighbouring countries and are financed b the World Bank are called international Highways. They are of two types:


(1) Routes linking the capital of neighbouring countries like

(a) The Lahore-Mandalay (Myanmar) route passing through Amritsar, Delhi, Agra Kolkata, Golaghat and Imphal.

(b) Agra, Gwalior, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Dhannskodi road.

(c) Barhi-Kathmandu Road.

(2) Routes linking major urban centres, ports etc.

(a) Agra-Mumbai Road

(b) Bangalore-Chennai road

(c) Golghat-Ledo road

(d) Delhi-Multan road.

Super National Highways.

Keeping in view accelerating growth of population urbanization and industrialization in the country, the Ministry of surface transport has brought out a very extensive and ambitious plan of 14,000 km Super National Highways for connecting major ports and cities in the country. This shall cost a wooping sum of Rs. 1, 56,000 crores.

The following are the proposed Super National Highways:

1. Maharaja Agersen Marg

SNHI Delhi, Jaipur – Udaipur – Ahmedabad – Mumbai – Pune – Bangalore

Kochi – Thiruvanthapuram – Kanya ICumari.

SNHIC: Link to Marmagao Port.

SNHID: Link to Mangalore Port.

2. Maharishi Valmiki Marg

SNHIA – Jaipur – Agra.

3. Jhule Lai Marg

SNHIB: Ahmedabad – Kandla

4. Guru Gobind Singh Marg.

Amritsar – Chandigarh – Delhi – Kanpur – Patna – Dhanbad – Kolkata- Bhuvancshwar – Chennai.

SNH 2A: Link to Haldia port.

SNH 2B: Link to Paradeep port.

SNH 2C: Link to Vishakhapatnam port.

5. Tiruvalluvar Marg

SNH2: Chennai – Kanyakumari

SNH2 D: Link to Tuticorin port.

SNH 3 Srinagar – Jammu – Pathankot

6. Sant Ravi Dass Marg

SNH 3 Pathankot – Jalandhar

7. Ravinderanath Marg

SNH 4 Patna – Guwahati

8. Bhagwan Mahabir Marg

SNH 5 Delhi- Agra – Nagpur – Hyderabad – Bangalore

9. Bhagwan Parshu Ram Marg

SNH6 Mumbai – Nagpur, Rourkela – Dhanbad.

10. Swami Dayanand Marg

Bangalore – Chennai.

India has one of the largest road networks in the world. The country’s total road length as on 31 March, 1997 stood at 24, 65,877 km excluding those under Jawahar Rozjjar Yojana. The Ninth Plan laid emphasis on a coordinated and balanced development of road network in the country.

The Central Government is responsible for the national highway system totalling a length of 52,010 km. Up to 31 March, 1999, road links including diversions, realignments, etc., 4767 km, widening and strengthening single lane section to double lane carriage way – 26092 km, widening to four-lane completed 959 km and strengthening of weak two-lane pavement 15,526.79 km.

In addition 579 major bridges and 3,137 minor bridges were completed. A budget allocation of Rs. 2,163.08 crore was made for the year 1999-2000. Besides this additional supplementary grant of Rs. 1,900 crore was made available from cess fund.

In the budget estimate for the year 2000-2001, a sum of Rs. 2,506 crore has been allocated from the budget and additional amount of Rs. 2,010 crore has been made available from the cess account and has been earmarked to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

Though the national highways constitute only two per cent of the total road length, they carry nearly 40 per cent of road traffic. There are altogether nine on-going external loans for the improvement of National Highways, comprising one loan (US dollar 306 million) from the World Bank, three loans (total US dollar 672 million) from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and five loans (total Japanese Yen 36,915 million approximately equivalent to US dollar 450 million) from the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) Japan.

A six lane golden quadrilateral linking Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai-the North South Corridor connecting Kanyakumari and a similar East-west corridor connecting Silchar to Saurastra, most cherished dream of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is being taken in hand by the Ministry of surface transport.

There is no denying the fact that highways of this nature are not only the arteries of national economy but also the backbone for cultural exchange, social equality, national unity and integrity. This ambitious project was announced by the PM. on October 1998.

The World Bank loan is for:

Six National Highways in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Orissa, Maharashtra, M.P and West Bengal.

The 1st Asian development Bank (A.D.B.) loan was for development of National Highways in Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, A.E, U.E and West Bengal.

The 2nd A.D.B. loan was for NHS in A.E, U.E and West Bengal.

The 3rd A.D.B. loan was for the NHS in Haryana. A.E, Rajasthan, Bihar and West Bengal.

Improvement in Mathura – Agra section NH – 2 in UP is being done with loan from JBIC only.

The total length of roads in India stood at 24, 65,877 km excluding those under Jawahar Rozjjar Yojana (both surfaced and un-surfaced roads) in March 1997. State wise breakup of the length of roads is given in the below given table.

Border Roads Organization

Raised in May, 1960 for development of roads of strategic importance in the Northern and north-eastern border areas, the Border Roads Organization (BRO) has completed four decades of dedicated service to the nation.

Since inception up to Marc 2000 it has completed 28,342 km of formation works, surfaced 32,885 km of roads, executed Rs 2, 03,902 lakh worth of permanent works and constructed permanent bridges totalling a length of 15,131 running metres.

The BRO in the service of nation is a premier construction agency today, not only of roads but of airfields, bridges, buildings, hospitals and schools. The re-surfacing of Goa airfield and surfacing of the airstrip at Shibpur (Andaman & Nicobar Islands) were completed this year by the organization.

The work on the Tamu-Kalemyo-Kalewa road in Myanmar is progressing. Construction of a 275 km long road on NH-16 from Sironcha in Maharashtra to Jagdalpur in Madhya Pradesh commenced in January 2000. A large number of works for the Ministry of External Affairs including terminal works for the Tata Hydel Project are under execution in Bhutan.

A 478 km long road on NH-1A including the two tubes of Jawahar Tunnel, which continues to be a strategic link between J & K State and the rest of the country, is being improved. North Eastern Council (NEC) Roads totalling a length of 212 km are under construction.

Several important projects like the CGDA complex at Port Blair, a battalion accommodation for the Assam Rifles at Kaithalmanbi, Manipur, the North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology, Itanagar and eight Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in the Border States are presently under construction.

The BRO played a major role during ‘Operation Vijay’ by the early summer snow clearance of roads, Srinagar-Zojila-Leh and Manali-Sarchu-Leh as well as the exacting maintenance of these two axes. Maintenance of road communication continued unabated in Kargil sector, despite personnel, vehicles and equipment, being subjected to heavy shelling from across the Line of Control.

The BRO is presently engaged in the construction of 102 major permanent bridges. So far 180 bridges have been completed. A total number of 19 national highways are in the various stages of development and maintenance under the BRO.

A total length of 15,512 km of road is presently under construction and 16,872 km of road is under maintenance of the BRO. The organization has been recently entrusted the stupendous task of constructing a tunnel below die Rohtang Pass so as to make Manali-Leh strategic road, motorable throughout the year.

Road transport has gained tremendous importance in the present times. It had posed a serious challenge to the railways because of its advantages of speed, security, door collection and home delivery services.

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