India has one of the largest networks of roadways in the world. The length of road per 100 sq. km. of the area is known as the density of roads. Kerala has the highest density of roads. India has a large network of 41 lakh kilometers, making it the second-largest road network in the world. This network of roads in India includes national highways, state highways, district roads, and rural roads like border roads.
National Highways in India
- Roads that run across the country and connect various cities and are maintained by the central government are known as national highways (NHs). Some facts about NHs:
- They handle about 40% of the total road traffic.
- The traffic on NHs is growing because of rapid industrialization.
- The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was constituted in 1988. It is responsible for the construction of NHs and for implementing projects which are related to the improvement of NHs.
- Besides NHAI, the Public Works Department and Border Road Organization carry out the development and maintenance of NHs. Two major projects undertaken by NHAI are the Golden Quadrilateral and North-South and East-West Corridor.
- It is the largest express highway project in India connecting the four metropolis cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai.
- The Golden Quadrilateral has enabled the industrial growth of all small towns through which it passes and has provided an impetus to Truck transport throughout India.
North–South and East–West Corridor
- The North–South and East–West Corridor is the largest ongoing highway project in India.
- It aims to connect Srinagar, Kanyakumari, Porbandar and Silchar.
Express highways are six-lane roads constructed to provide high-speed movement without any obstacles like speed breakers. Some major express highways in India are
Yamuna Expressway: It connects Greater Noida with Agra. It is a six-lane expressway. This expressway has reduced the traveling time between Delhi and Agra by over two hours and connects the main towns located on the eastern side of the River Yamuna. It has helped farmers to transport their agricultural, horticultural, and dairy products to major cities.
Ahmedabad–Vadodara Expressway: It was India’s first four-lane expressway. It reduced the journey between Ahmedabad and Vadodara to less than 1 hour.
Mumbai–Pune Expressway: It is India’s first six-lane high-speed tolled expressway. It has separate tunnels and complete fencing to prevent crossing by humans or animals.
Panipat Expressway: It has been constructed to decongest the traffic on the busy Delhi–Amritsar route. It is a 10-km elevated highway at Haryana.
These are constructed and maintained by state governments. They link cities and towns within the state and connect the National Highways.
These roads connect areas of production with markets in a district. They also connect talukas with district headquarters within the state.
Rural roads constitute about 80% of the total road length in the country. These roads facilitate the movement of agricultural produce and finished goods from production centers to market centers. Prime Minister’s Rural Road Scheme was launched in December 2000 by the Government of India to provide connectivity to the rural areas.
The Border Road Organization (BRO) was set up to strengthen the defense of the country. BRO has built the highest road in the world running from Manali to Leh.
Advantages of Roadways in India
- They provide door-to-door services.
- The cost of construction of roadways is much lower than that of railways.
- Roadways can be constructed in hilly regions.
- Roadways supplement the other modes of transport. For example, roadways connect railway stations and ports to the hinterland.
Disadvantages of Roadways in India
- The road network is inadequate to tackle India’s large population.
- About half of the roads are unmetalled roads, and hence, their use is restricted during the rainy season.
- The number of NHs is also not enough keeping in mind the large population of the country.
- In cities, roads are highly congested. Sometimes, the encroachment of the road by hawkers and vegetable sellers also results in congestion.
- The passing of heavily loaded trucks that carry a load above the prescribed limit also damages the roads in the long run.
Also, Read Air Transport in India