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The Indian roadways have made tremendous progress since independence. The article briefs about journey of the Indian roadways since Independence, the various agencies that monitor the progress of roadways and the golden quadrilateral.


Roads are definitely a cost efficient and popular mode of transport. It stretches across the length and breadth of a country and can be used by different sections of society. It helps in the movement of men and material from one mode to another.

It forges national unity and is instrumental in the nation’s socio economic development. It acts as a support system to other means of transport like railways, shipping, airways etc. Hence a well developed roadway is vital for promoting commercial interest of the country.

Road Network in India
Road network in India is one of the most extensive in the world, amounting to 3.314 million kilometers, consisting of Expressways, National Highways, State Highways, Major District Roads, Other District Roads and Village Roads. The National Highways extending over 66,754 km act as the main road network in the country. Though they account for only 2 per cent of the total road in India, they carry about 40 per cent of the total traffic.27 per cent of the roads are single lane.59 per cent of the roads are double lane and the balance of 14 per cent is four, six or eight lane.

The Department of Road Transport and Highways under the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways is in charge of maintaining and development of roads. All roads except for National Highways fall within the purview of State governments. The department of road transport and highways essentially carries out the following functions:

Roads Wing

It is responsible for
  • Construction and management of National Highways, in line with the provision of National Highways Act, 1956.
  • Providing technical expertise and financial help to State governments for the maintenance and construction of state roads.
  • Standardizing the specifications for roads and bridges in the country.
  • Maintaining databank of knowledge on roads and bridges.
Transport Wing

It is concerned with
  • The subject of road transport system in the country. It is mainly responsible for administration of Motor Vehicles Act 1988 and Road Transport Corporations Act 1950, besides taxation of motor vehicles, motor insurance and encouraging transport co operatives in the area of motor transport.
  • It is also responsible for formulating road safety standards through National Road Safety Policy.
  • Gathering, recording and analyzing road accident statistics.
  • Creating awareness among the public on road safety.
The Ministry carries out the operations of National Highways through three different agencies, they are State Public Works Department (PWD), Border Roads Organization (BRO) and National Highways Authority Of India (NHAI).The daily management of most national highways in states are looked after by the respective PWD's. The BRO is primarily concerned with construction and maintenance of roads in border areas, also known as General Staff (GS) roads. The BRO has linked the border areas of North and North East with the rest of the country. It has played a vital role in developing the road network in states like Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh. Nearly 46,884 km of National Highways is managed by the concerned PWD's and BRO.

Sixty years since Independence, India has made tremendous progress with respect to it transport system. The accelerated growth rate in the economy has helped the nation to bridge distance. The architect of the change is the development of thousands of km of world class roads, dedicated freight corridors and improvement in rural roads. Immediately after Independence India did not have the luxury of well networked roadways. The British had left behind only 4 lakh km of roads that linked major cities and the rural heartland. So the government then formulated a two pronged strategy-improve connectivity and provide infrastructure that stimulated economic growth.

Unfortunately resources were meager and the government was finding it difficult to sustain progress. As a result the quality of roads was poor and would often deteriorate after the monsoons. The establishment of the National Highways Authority Of India (NHAI) in 1988 dramatically changed the future of roadways in India. The NHAI brought about standardization in terms of quality and management became more efficient.

In the eight plan the government gave the sector lots of incentives like customs free import of capital goods and freebies like tax holidays. The government came up with a proposal for an ambitious project called Golden Quadrilateral to connect the country through two different corridors the North-South and East-West corridor extending to a length of 25,000 km. It was funded by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The government came with a special cess on petrol and diesel to finance the project. The landscape for roadways changed dramatically after this.

The Golden Quadrilateral
Never before in the history of Independent India has the construction of a road network of this magnitude been undertaken. It is actually four major expressways connecting the four metros of Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. The expressways vary from four to six lanes and cumulatively run for over 3600 miles (5800 km).It must be said that the construction of the Golden Quadrilateral highway is behind schedule. Officially it is estimated that 96 per cent of the project has been completed. However the Government is facing teething problem at several places due to state government refusing to cede with land. Once completed it would be a significant milestone for Indian Roadways.

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