Geographical Distribution of Roads in India

Geographical Distribution of Roads in India
Posted on 23-08-2023

Disparities in the geographical allocation of roads within India are readily apparent. The extent of National Highways traversing a state cannot consistently serve as an accurate gauge of its economic prosperity, as these highways predominantly cater to major transportation corridors. For instance, Bihar boasts a substantial expanse of National highways, yet lags behind economically when compared to other states. Conversely, a more insightful indicator of regional road connectivity can be derived from the mileage of state highways.

An alternative measure for evaluating road accessibility lies in road density, which quantifies road length per 100 square kilometers of land area.

Road density refers to the measurement of average road length per 100 square kilometers of land area. India's road density remains notably lower in comparison to developed nations. The Northern Plains exhibit a dense road network due to their flat terrain, fertile soil, and high population density. Here, unsurfaced roads are more prevalent than paved ones.

In the Peninsular plateau, a higher proportion of roads are paved due to the availability of road construction materials. Conversely, the North Eastern states suffer from a sparse road network owing to their mountainous landscape, dense forests, heavy rainfall causing frequent flooding, and low population.

Road density displays an uneven distribution across India. States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, and Haryana boast higher road density due to factors such as agricultural growth, industrialization, urban development, and dense population. Karnataka and Maharashtra follow suit due to concentrated industries and urban areas.

Andhra Pradesh and Bihar have moderate road density, while Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh exhibit lower density due to low population and economic development.

In the Himalayan and North Eastern regions, road density is extremely low, falling below 20 km per 100 square km. Punjab in the north, as well as Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south, have the highest surfaced road density. Generally, surfaced road density mirrors the overall road density pattern.

Road density variation is driven by relief, climate, economic development, and population density.

The classification of roads comprises three types:

  1. National Highways: These major roads connect cities and are maintained by the Central Government. Despite constituting only 2% of surfaced roads, they carry 40% of traffic. India has 219 national highways, with National Highway No.7 being the longest, linking Varanasi and Kanya Kumari.

  2. State Highways: Managed by State Governments, these roads link district headquarters to state capitals.

  3. District and Village Roads: Maintained by local bodies with state funding, these roads connect villages with small towns and district centers.

Border roads are constructed near international borders, connecting remote areas with the country's interior. The Border Road Organisation oversees their construction and maintenance due to their strategic and economic importance. The Leh and Manali Road, the world's highest, stands at an elevation of 4270 meters above sea level. These border roads often traverse challenging terrains and harsh climates.

In conclusion:

  • National Highways connect major cities and carry significant traffic despite their small percentage of the road network.

  • State Highways link districts to state capitals.

  • District and Village Roads connect rural areas to towns and district centers.

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