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Road Transport UPSC| Transport, Communication, and Trade | Geography of India

India has the second-largest road network in the world after China having more than 65 lakh kilometers. 85 % of passengers and 70 % of freight traffic are carried out by the road and are most suitable for shorter distances.

The following are the importance of road transport;

  • Construction cost is much lower than railways track
  • The road can be constructed in rough topography and can transfer with many slopes as compared to railways
  • Road transport is more economical for the fewer person for a short distance
  • It also provides door-to-door services at a lower cost as the cost of loading and unloading is much lower
  • Road transport is used to support other modes of transport such as Railways, waterways, and airways.

Evolution of Road Transport Policies:

  • Before world war 2, limited development of road transport.
  • In 1943, the "Nagpur Plan" was framed but was not implemented due to a lack of coordination between Princely states and British India.
  • In 1961, a twenty-year road plant was introduced to improve the condition of the road in India.
  • But most of the Road concentrated around the Urban center
  • Remote and rural areas are the least connected
  • To connect rural India to Urban India, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was launched in 2000 to make all-weather roads in rural areas.

Road transport is classified into 5 classes for purpose of construction and maintenance;

  • National Highways
  • State Highways
  • District Roads
  • Rural Roads
  • Border Roads

National Highways;

National Highways are meant for interstate connectivity and these connect to the state capital, major cities, ports, and junctions.

  • In 1951, the National Highway length was 19,700 Km.
  • In 2016, it was approx 101011 km.
  • It comprises only 2 % of the total length but carried 40 % of total traffic.
Earlier, Central Road Networks were constructed and maintained by Central Public Works Department ( CPWD), but after the creation of the National Highways Authority of India(NHAI), CPWD is restricted to vertical construction and NHAI looks after the construction and maintenance of national highways since 1995.

Role of the National Highways Authority of India in the construction and maintenance of road infrastructure in India?

  • NHAI( The National Highway Authority of India was constituted by the Act of parliament in 1988. However, NHAI was operationalized in 1995.
  • It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway.
  • NHAI is responsible for the maintenance, operation, and quality improvement of national highways. The length of national highways as of FY 2021 is around 136440 km.
  • NHAI is also responsible for toll collection on national highways.
Two major projects were implemented by the National Highway Authority of India( NHAI):
  • Golden Quadrilateral Super Highways:
      • Six-lane highways connect four metro cities that are Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai. 
      • Length: 5,846 Km
  • North-South and East-West Corridor
    • North-South Corridor; connected Srinagar to Kanniyakumari ( length 4,076 km)
    • East-West corridor; Silchar( Assam) to Porbander ( Gujarat) ( length 3,640 km)

NHAI also maintained the Sher Shah Suri road.

Before independence, Sher Shah Suri or Grand Truck ( GT) road connected to Kolkata to Peshawar, now it has been bifurcated into two national highways by NHAI:

  • Nation Highway( NH-1): Sher-Shah Suri Marg; From Delhi to Amritsar
  • National Highway( NH-2); Delhi to Kolkata

NHAI is working on the following two famous projects:

  • National Green Highway Mission ( Plantation, transplantation, beautification, and maintenance of national highway since 2015)
  • Development of ring roads bypasses, and flyovers on National Highways to avoid traffic.

State Highways;

  • State Highways link the state capital with different district headquarter.
  • These roads are constructed and maintained by the state public work departments ( PWD) in state and union territories.
  • It is comprised of 4 % of the total of India's road length

District Roads:

  • District roads link the district headquarter with other places in the district
  • These roads are maintained by Zila Parishad
  • It comprises 14 % of Total India's road length

Rural Roads;

  • Rural areas link the village to towns with all-weather roads which are constructed and maintained by Pradhan Matri Grameen Sadak Yojana.
  • It is the largest in number and comprises 80 % of India's road network

Border Roads:

  • Border Roads Organization(BRO) under the government of India construct roads in border areas.
  • BRO was established in 1960 and constructed a strategic importance road in northern and northeastern border areas.
  • It helps to access remote areas and also the economic development of these areas.
  • An important one is from Manali( Himachal Pradesh) to Leh ( Ladakh)

Try to solve the following questions:

  • What is the role of the National Highways Authority of India in the construction and maintenance of road infrastructure in India? (66th BPSC)

Answer the following questions on road transport:

1. In which year National Highway Authority of India was constituted?
a) 1985
b) 1888
c) 1995
d) 2002

Answer. b) 1888

2. In which year National Highway Authority of India was operationalized?
a) 1985
b) 1888
c) 1995
d) 2002

Answer. c) 1995

3. Which of the following road networks is the largest in India?
a) National Highways
b) State Highways
c) Districts roads
d) Rural roads

Answer. d) Rural roads

4. Nagpur's plan of 1943 was related to?
a) Road transport policies
b) National Highway Authority of India
c) Central Public Works Department ( CPWD)
d) Border Road Organization( BRO)

Answer. a) Road transport policies

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