78% of national highways have only one or two lanes

40% Of Roads In India Not Metalled: Data
In a stark indication of how far India has to go in developing its highway network, latest official statistics reveal that around 78% of national highways are either oneor two-lane affairs. Onethird are less than two lanes, making the task of four-laning India’s economic lifelines a challenging endeavour.A report of the road transport and highways ministry on the state of road networks as of May 2015 also shows that nearly 40%, including rural, intra-district and state high ways, are not metalled–outlining the limitations in connectivity but also offering hope that road development in remote areas can be a major employment generator for the next several years.

According to the report, just five states–Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Assam–account for about 43% of the country’s total road network.The implications are obvious as fixing the imbalance can be key to literally speeding up India’s economy through smoother freight movement.

Road length in India increased from 33.73 lakh km in 2000-01to 54.72 lakh km in 2015 and rural roads account for the maximum share of 61% of the entire network. State and national highways, which carry over 60% traffic, have less than 5% share. These are even less than the country’s total urban road network.

The report says 14.14 lakh km roads are yet to be surfaced and over 11.5 lakh km of this network falls under rural and project roads. While rural roads include stretches owned by panchayats and zila parishads in addition to the identified networks under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, project roads cover stretches built by agencies such as forest, irrigation, electricity and sugarcane departments. A comparative analysis of the report also shows that Assam has the maximum length of unsurfaced roads (nearly 2.67 lakh km) followed by 1.85 lakh km in West Bengal and Maharashtra.

Delhi, which ranks fourth in the list of states with maximum urban roads, has nearly 8,700 km unsurfaced stretches.

Road transport ministry officials said considering that road development works have a multiplier effect on economy and job generation, highways minister Nitin Gadkari has given in-principle approval to increase the length of NHs from 1.05 lakh km to 1.40 lakh km.

In fact, the ministry has also revised the norm for qualifying highway stretches for their widening from two lanes to four lanes. Moreover, the ministry has set a target to widen all national highways to at least two lanes. “National highways must be of some standard so that people can find the difference the minute they take NHs. Simple notification to declare state highways as NHs may have political significance, but the real task lies in expanding and improving them,“ said S P Singh of IFTRT, a Delhi-based think-tank on transport issues.

Source : TOI

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