India’s road network, spanning across 4.69 million km, is the third-largest road network in the world, next in line only to the US and China. The country relies heavily on its robust road network that carries almost 65 per cent of freight and 80 per cent of passenger traffic. National Highways (NH), under the jurisdiction of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), constitute for almost 2 per cent of the network but carry about 40 per cent of the total road traffic.
The Indian Government is very particular about the development and maintenance of this huge network; more so because number of vehicles in the country has been growing at an average rate of 10.16 per cent per annum over the last five years. Thus a need for efficient and world-class road network becomes inevitable for smooth transitions of goods and services.
The administration awarded about 2, 000 km worth of new road construction contracts in FY13.
Key Developments and Investments
FDI received in construction development sector from April 2000 to April 2013 stood at US$ 22.112 million, according to Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
- IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd, one of India's biggest road builders, has recently signed a US$ 300 million contract to build a six-lane highway. The project will link an eastern industrial zone (having heavy-duty traffic) to mining districts such as Dhanbad, the nation's coal capital.
- Meanwhile, NHAI has agreed to facilitate 50 per cent of the financial assistance to Kerala’s State Government for developing the proposed bypasses in Kollam, Alappuzha and Kozhikode. The Union ministry will grant Rs 357 crore (US$ 60 million) of financial assistance to the state for developing the five bypass roads. The funds for the same would be disbursed in a phased manner.
- The Government of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has also put highway development programme on the highest priority. It has decided to convert busy roads into four lane highways for faster and better transportation of goods and people. The state Public Works Department (PWD) has been asked to identify such roads and later transfer them to the UP State Highways Authority (UPSHA) for up-gradation.
UP has one of the largest road networks in India measuring about 1, 35, 000 km, including national/state highways, district and rural roads.