The road network in India is amongst the most widespread in the world. The length of all the roads in India adds up to around 2.3 million kilometres.
Roadways have some practical advantages over railways:
- Road is easier to construct at a lower cost.
- Roads are easier to lay on undulating land and steep slopes, like in a mountainous region.
- Is cheaper and transports a small number of people or goods over short distances.
- Roads door-to-door connectivity.
- Provides direct feeder links to other places of goods transport, like seaports, airports and railway stations.
From all-weather metalled roads made of concrete, cement or coal tar, to unpaved, unmetalled roads that go out of use in the rainy season. Based on their capacity to sustain traffic, roads are classified into the following six types: The Golden Quadrilateral Super Highways, National Highways, State Highways, District Roads, Border Roads and Other Roads.
The Golden Quadrilateral reduces travelling time between the major cities of India. The National Highways Authority of India, NHAI, will construct six-lane super highway connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. These roads will form four sides of a quadrilateral, and hence the name.
The east-west corridor connects Silchar in Assam to Porbandar in Gujarat. The north-south corridor connects Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. Indian national highways are constructed and maintained by the Central Public Works Department, or CPWD.
In India, every national highway is given a unique number. Within a state, the roads linking the state capital with different district headquarters are called state highways. State highways are constructed and maintained by the Public Works Department, or PWD, of the state concerned.
The roads connecting a district headquarter to other destinations in the district are called district roads. These roads are constructed and maintained by the Zila Parishad concerned. The roads that run close to India’s international border in the north and north-eastern parts of the country are called Border Roads. Border Roads are constructed and maintained by the Border Roads Organisation that was set up in 1960.
Other roads are mostly rural roads that connect villages with nearby towns. The Government of India has launched a special programme called the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojna to develop such rural roads and connect each village to a town by a motorable road.
The length of roads per hundred square kilometres of area is called road density. Jammu and Kashmir has the lowest road density at 10 kilometres, while Kerala has the highest at 375 kilometres. The average road density of Indian states is 75 kilometres.
India roadways are facing many challenges like:
- The roads and national highways in India are not enough to accommodate the large volume of road traffic. This leads to frequent traffic jams.
- 50% of the roads in India are unmetalled and become difficult during the monsoons.
- Roads and bridges in most Indian cities are quite narrow.