Road transport plays a vital role in the country’s transport system.
Road transport acts as complementary to rail transport. It is a cheaper mode of transportation.
Progress of Road Transport:
In 1951, total road length in India was 4 lakh km. out of which 22.2 thousand km was national highway. In 2000-01, the total road length has increased to 3420 thousand km. Out of which 58110 km was national highway. This shows that during last 50 years, road length has increased at an annual average rate of 5%.
Roads in India have been classified as follows:
(a) National Highways:
These refer to the main roads which connect state capitals, ports and big cities. Construction and maintenance of these roads are the responsibility of Centre Govt.
(b) State Highways:
There are the main roads of the state. These connect the capitals and the cities of the state. State Govts. are responsible for their maintenance.
(c) District Roads:
These roads connect district mandies and production areas. These are maintained by District Board.
(d) Village Roads:
These roads connect the village with district roads. Panchayats construct these road.
(e) Border Roads:
These roads are constructed with the help of Border Road Organisation (BRO). These roads are strategic for defence. In India, only 50% of the road length is provided with a proper surface. Even in National Highways 30% of the road length has a single lane. 36% of the villages in the country do not have road connection and 65% of our villages are without all weather roads.
National Highway Development Project was launched in India. The project is being implemented by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) involving an investment of Rs. 54000 crores. It is 5846 km Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) and 7300 km North South (NS), East West (EW) corridors.
The GQ connects Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. MS-EW Corridors link Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and Silchar to Porbandar. The GQ is scheduled to be completed by 2003 and NS-EW Corridor by 2007. This project will promote economic development of the country. In 1950-51, there were 82000 trucks and in 2000, the number increased to 27 lakh. During the same period, number of buses has increased from 34000 to 5.59 lakh.
Another project called Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has been launched recently. According to an estimate 180000 villages do not have formal road connection. The aim of the programme is to connect all villages with a population of 500 each with all weather pucca roads by 2007. 30 thousand villages have been connected with pucca roads. The total cost of this project is Rs. 60000 crore.