Road Infrastructure In India

2022 MAY 16

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  • As the world switches to driverless cars, India too could soon get vehicles powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Researchers at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad have launched the Intelligent Solutions for Road Safety through Technology and Engineering (iRASTE) project in Nagpur aimed at making driving safer using AI.


  • Road Transport is vital for the economy of the country and enables the country's transportation sector to contribute around 4.7% towards India's GDP.
  • It carries around 65% of freight and 85% of passenger traffic in India.
  • The existing length of the NH network is 1.22 lakh km, which is 2.2 per cent of the country’s total road network of 56.03 lakh km.
  • As per NCRB Report road accidents killed 1.54 lakh people in India in 2019
  • According to the KPMG report, India's road network logistics and the bottlenecks in transportation negatively impacts the GDP growth rate by one to two percent.


  • Capacity of existing highways:
    • National and state highways are overstrained, carrying more than 65 per cent of the road traffic.
    • National highways carry 40 per cent of India’s total road traffic
  • Maintenance of existing infrastructure:
    • The annual outlay earmarked for maintenance and repair of national highway stretches is only about 40 per cent of the funds required
  • Accidents and safety concerns:
    • Road safety is a major issue in the country with nearly 400 road related deaths being recorded daily
  • Cost escalation for roads:
    • Delays in acquiring land affected project costs as the average cost of land escalated in recent years
  • Over-capacity in initial years:
    • Given that the capacity of a new highway has to be designed to be adequate for long period- say 10 years >> over capacity is built in initial years >> revenue realisation will be lesser in initial years >> hence deters private investment
  • Lack funding:
    • The road maintenance in India is underfunded and still thousands of villages in India lack access to all-weather roads.
  • Speed:
    • The intra-city vehicle speed in India (less than 7 km/hour) is one of the lowest in the world.
    • In India, the average road speed is about 30-40 km per hour whereas, the average road speed worldwide is between 60 to 80 km per hour.
    • This is due to high traffic which is expected to increase even further in future.
  • Ecological issues:
    • The low density of roads per thousand populations has caused congestion and slow speeds >> This increases fuel consumption leading to increased pollution
  • Regional variations:
    • The constraints with the Indian road network are not the same for each state with states like Gujarat, Tamilnadu has a better road network than other states.
    • Road density in the Kerala is 528 Km/100 while in Uttar Pradesh it is 28 Km/100


  • Rural road development:
    • Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) - To provide connectivity, by way of an all-weather road to unconnected habitations.
  • Issuance of tax free infrastructure bonds:
    • Infrastructure finance companies such as India Infrastructure Finance Corporation (IIFCL), National Highway Authority of India, HUDCO, PFC etc have been permitted to issue tax free bond for promotion of infrastructure
  • Tax incentives:
    • Companies enjoy 100% tax exemption in road projects for five years
  • Bharatmala Pariyojana:
    • It calls for improvement in efficiency of existing corridors through development of Multimodal Logistics Parks and elimination of choke points.
    • It enhances focus on improving connectivity in North East and leveraging synergies with Inland Waterways.
    • It emphasis on the use of technology and scientific planning for project preparation and asset monitoring.
    • It calls for seamless connectivity with neighbouring countries
  • National Highways Development Project (NHDP):
    • The flagship project of NHDP includes Golden Quadrilateral connecting the four major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
    • Another important project is the North-South and East-West corridor.
  • Pradhan Mantri Bharat Jodo Pariyojana (PMBJP):
    • Linking of major cities to National Highways
  • Institutions:
    • National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was established for developing, maintaining and managing India's road network through national highways.
    • Border Roads Organisation develops and maintains road networks in India's border areas and friendly neighboring countries.
    • Motor Vehicles Amendment Act provides for National Road Safety Board
    • National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL) was founded in 2014 to speed up the road construction in strategic areas along the international border and North Eastern Region
  • Setu Bharatam scheme:
    • It is launched in 2016, for making all national highways free of railway crossings by 2019.
  • Green Highways policy:
    • The ministry of road transport and Highways has promulgated green highways (plantation, transplantation, beautification and maintenance) policy 2015, for developing the green corridors along the national highways for inclusive growth and sustainable environment.
  • Char Dham highways:
    • Char Dham Expressway National Highway is proposed two-lane Express National Highway with a minimum width of 10 meters to be implemented in the state of Uttarakhand.
    • The scheme will connect the four holy places in Uttarakhand that includes Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
  • Safety:
    • Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2020 provides for:
      • To constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
      • National Road Safety Board to advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management
      • To help road accident victims, Good Samaritan guidelines have been incorporated in the amendment.


  • Change in approach:
    • Roads should not be looked at in isolation, but as part of an integrated multi-modal system of transport
  • Upgradation of technology in the auto industry:
    • There is need for continuous upgradation of technology in the auto industry, especially the commercial vehicle sector, to meet the objectives of better comfort, productivity, energy efficiency, safety and emission.
  • Expansion:
    • The existing network of National Highways and State Highways may be expanded in tune with the economic growth and development of industrial hubs, SEZs, ports, tourist centers and connectivity to international routes – Asian Highways and the European Road Network.
  • Coordination:
    • For capacity augmentation of state highways every state should formulate and implement programmes on the lines of NHDP.
  • Focal areas:
    • Special needs of connectivity to ports, airports, mining areas and development of power plants should be factored in development of the road programmes.
  • Capacity building:
    • A dedicated road design institute should be set up, which should function under the umbrella of MoRTH.
    • Similar institutes should be set up in each state PWD and Rural Roads Agency.
  • Establish Road Safety and Traffic Management Board as recommended by the Sundar Committee


Q. Analyse the issues associated with major road infrastructure development initiatives in India?