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Data: Maharashtra accounted 18% of State Highways length in the country as of March 2019

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The annual Basic Road Statistics of India report published by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MORTH) provides detailed data about the road network in the country.  As per the recently released 2018-19 report, more than 50% of the National Highway network in the country was concentrated in seven states. Maharashtra accounts for 18% of the state highway length in India.

In the first of the two-part series, we looked at a few of the key statistics related to the roads in India as provided in the ‘Basic Road Statistics of India 2018-19’ report. In this second part, we look at the statistics related to the different categories of roads across the states. We specifically look at National Highways, State Highways, Rural Roads & Urban roads. 

52% of the total length of National Highways in 7 States by March 2019

National Highways (NH) are the primary mode of road transport in India and carry nearly 1/3rd of the total road traffic. The National Highways connect most of the state capitals and UTs, major ports, industrial centres, rail junctions, tourist spots etc. They also link up with the border roads and highways of neighbouring countries. 

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) is responsible for the construction, development, and maintenance of National Highways. It implements the NH projects primarily through the National Highways Authority of India Ltd (NHAI) & National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL). It also coordinates with State Public Work Departments (PWDs) for 2-lane NH and Border Roads Organization (BRO). 

There is a 5% increase in the length of NH in 2018-19 compared to the previous year. Apart from the new NH laid, conversion and upgradation of a few State Highways into National Highways have contributed to the growth. 

Over the years, different initiatives and schemes by successive governments have contributed to increasing the total length of NH from 19.8 thousand Km in 1950-51 to 1.32 lakh km by 2018-19. This increase also meant that nearly all major parts of the country are connected through National Highways. 

However, there are few states which have a major share of the total length of NH in the country. 

The respective size of the states, presence of important cities and industrial centres, their geographical location etc. can be cited as a few of the reasons for the concentration of a higher network on NH in a few states. 

Maharashtra has the highest share of National Highways in the country with 13.4% as of March 2019. A total of 17.7 thousand Km of NH passes through the state. The state has 18 National Highways.  The other large states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh have 8.9%, 7.8% and 6.6% of the total NH in the country. 

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu & Gujarat have the next highest concentration of NH in the country. Longer coastlines, commercial centres, and tourist spots are a few of the reasons for these four states to have a larger share of the total National Highways. The 8 Northeastern States (including Sikkim) have around 10% of the NH network in the country. 

18% of total State Highways are in Maharashtra as of March 2019

State Highways are roads that link major centres within the state and connect them with National Highways or State Highways of the neighbouring states.  They are constructed and managed by the respective State Governments through State Public Works Departments. These along with the district roads are considered as the secondary system of road transportation in the country. 

Maharashtra has the largest State Highway network with 32 thousand KMs. This is nearly 18% of 1.79 lakh km of State Highway network in the country.  Karnataka has more than 1/10th of the network in the country with 19.47 thousand Km, followed by Gujarat, Rajasthan & Andhra Pradesh.

As per the 2018-19 report, Arunachal Pradesh has the next highest with 13.5 thousand KM of State Highways. However, this includes all the roads under the State PWD, as the state has not provided an official classification of the roads i.e., State Highways, District roads etc.  Most of the Northeastern States have a lower length of State Highways, with Mizoram the least at 170 km. 

Within the states, Districts roads are a key to local rural connectivity. They constitute nearly 1/10th of the total road network in the country. Maharashtra has the highest district road network with 1.08 lakh km, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 55 thousand KM. 

Assam has the second highest Rural Road network, but only a smaller portion is surfaced 

Rural Roads form the highest component of the Road networks in the country. The total rural road length in the country is 45.22 lakh Km. Rural roads consist of roads constructed by Panchayat Raj institutions, State PWDs and those constructed under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). 

54.6% of the rural roads are Panchayat Raj Roads, 24.1% are under State PWDs & RWDs and 21.3% of the roads are constructed under PMGSY. 

However, only about 67% of the Rural Roads are surfaced, especially with only 55% of the Panchayat Roads being surfaced. The roads laid by State PWDs & under PMGSY have a higher proportion of surfaced roads.  

Maharashtra has the highest rural road network with 4.26 lakh Km. The state also has a greater proportion of these roads surfaced, at 74.1%.  In contrast, Assam which has the second highest rural road network at 3.72 lakh km, only has about 75 thousand Km of these roads surfaced i.e., only about 20%. Karnataka also has more than 2 lakh km of Rural roads but less than 50% are surfaced. 

Among the other top states with the highest length of Rural roads, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh & Rajasthan have a higher share of rural roads being laid/surfaced.  Bihar, Odisha & Karnataka have a lower share of their rural roads surfaced. 

West Bengal & Uttar Pradesh have the highest length of Urban Roads in India 

With a total road length of 5.41 lakh km, the urban roads constitute 8.5% of the total road length in the country. Urban Roads include – Municipal Roads under Urban Development Departments of States & UTs, Roads in Railway Zones, roads constructed by Military Engineering Services, Major & Minor Port Roads etc.  

94% of the total Urban roads are Municipal roads. A total of 79% of the urban roads in the country are surfaced. Among the states, West Bengal has the highest urban road network with 95 thousand Km. Of it about 70% i.e., 66.7 thousand Km is surfaced.  UP has 70.2 thousand km of Urban roads. Karnataka, Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh make up the top 5 states with the highest length of Urban Roads. 

As was the case with rural roads, Karnataka is among the states with a less share of surfaced roads, even in the case of Urban roads. 

Challenges with land acquisition, clearances are among the reasons for project delays  

Data indicates that there has been considerable progress over the decades in developing the road infrastructure in the country. Successive governments have announced and implemented various flagship schemes to not only develop the National Highways network but also roads at the rural level. Most State governments also focus on developing the road network within the states. 

The report highlights that few of the National Highways are delayed due to land acquisition, non-availability of resources to lay roads (soil, aggregate etc), environment & forest clearances, poor performances of contractors etc.  Several review initiatives are being taken up by the government to review the delay and expedite the projects, as per the details provided in the report. 

Lower surface road coverage is a challenge which is seen both in Rural and Urban roads. Many of these roads are not newly laid roadways like the highways but are the ones already existing. Expediting converting the un-surfaced roads to surfaced roads can help in ensuring road safety and better access.  

Featured Image:  Basic Road Statistics of India Report

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