India has one of the largest road networks in the world. Every year, approximately, 85 per cent of passenger and 70 per cent of freight traffic are carried by roads. ‘Nagpur Plan’ in 1943 was witnessed the first serious attempts in way improving road network but could not be implemented due to lack of coordination among the princely states and British India. After Independence, twenty-year road plan (1961) was introduced to improve the conditions of roads in India. However, roads continue to concentrate in and around urban centres. Rural and remote areas had the least connectivity by road. For the purpose of construction and maintenance, roads are classified as National Highways (NH), State Highways (SH), Major District Roads and Rural Roads. The Border Road Organisation (BRO) was established in May 1960 for accelerating economic development and strengthening defence preparedness through rapid and coordinated improvement of strategically important roads along the northern and north-eastern boundary of the country.
The main roads which are constructed and maintained by the Central Government are known as the National Highways. These roads are constructed for inter-state transport and movement of defence men and material in strategic areas. The National Highways constitute only two per cent of the total road length but carry 40 per cent of the road traffic. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is the apex body to improve the quality of the National Highways. It was constituted by an act of Parliament, the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988. It is responsible for the development, maintenance and management of National Highways entrusted to it and for matters connected or incidental thereto. It was operationalised in Feb, 1995.
These highways are constructed and maintained by state governments which join the state capitals with district headquarters and other important towns.
These roads are the connecting link between District Headquarters and the other important nodes in the district.
These roads are vital for providing links in the rural areas. About 80 per cent of the total road length in India are categorised as rural roads. There is regional variation in the density of rural road because these are influenced by the nature of the terrain.
Border Roads and International Highways
The Border Road Organisation (BRO) was established in May
1960 for accelerating economic development and strengthening defence preparedness through rapid and coordinated improvement of strategically important roads along the northern and north-eastern boundary of the country. It is a premier multifaceted construction agency. It has constructed roads in high altitude mountainous terrain joining Chandigarh with Manali (Himachal Pradesh) and Leh (Ladakh).
Today, roads transports are the dominant mode of transportation in India. They carry almost 90 percent of the country’s passenger traffic and 65 percent of its freight. The density of India’s highway network -- at 0.66 km of highway per square kilometre of land – is similar to that of the United States (0.65) and much greater than China's (0.16) or Brazil's (0.20). However, most highways in India are narrow and congested with poor surface quality, and 40 percent of India’s villages do not have access to all-weather roads.