In order to build the required road infrastructure both in the rural and urban areas of the country, the government has decided to increase the length of country’s highways from the current 1.05 lakh-km to 1.40 lakh-km. To achieve the laid down targets, it has also been decided to increase financing from the current level of Rs. 11,000-cr to Rs. 29,000-cr per annum by the 14th Plan period (2022-27). On this score, it may be recalled that the Rural Roads Development Vision Plan (RRDPV) 2025 (formulated way back in 2007), in its broad assessment had also made similar observation for investments in construction, upgrading, and maintenance. The planned road network would eventually carry 80% of the country’s freight.
In its recent report of the Road Transport Ministry revealed that 78% of the targeted road network is currently either one or two lane and 1/3rd is less than two lanes, making the task of four-laning of India’s economic lifeline, a challenging task. Nearly 40% including rural, intra-district and State highways are not metalled, outlining limitations in connectivity. According to the report, just five States – Maharashtra, UP, Karnataka, West Bengal, and Assam account for 43% of the road network. Assam has the maximum length of unsurfaced roads (2.67 lakh-km) followed by West Bengal and Maharashtra (1.85 lakh-km each). Even Delhi, which ranks fourth in the list of States with maximum urban roads, has nearly 8700 km of unsurfaced stretches. As per available statistics, road length increased from 33.73 lakh-km in 2000-01 to 54.72 lakh-km in 2015 – the second largest network in the world, out of which, rural roads account for 61% of the entire network. State and national highways, which carry over 60% traffic, have around 5 per cent share.