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Road Infrastructure in India

April, 2018


India has the second largest road network across the world at 5.4 million km. This road network transports more than 60 per cent of all goods in the country and 85 per cent of India’s total passenger traffic. Road transportation has gradually increased over the years with the improvement in connectivity between cities, towns and villages in the country.

The Indian roads carry almost 90 per cent of the country’s passenger traffic and around 65 per cent of its freight. In India sales of automobiles and movement of freight by roads is growing at a rapid rate.

Market size

The transport infrastructure sector in India is expected to grow at 6.1 per cent in real terms in 2017 and at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.9 per cent through the year 2021, thereby becoming the fastest-expanding component of the country's infrastructure sector.

The construction of highways reached 8,142 km during FY 2016-17, with an all-time high average pace of 22.3 km per day. In the first two months of FY2017-18, 1,627 km of highway was constructed at an average of 26.3 km per day.

Total length of roads constructed under Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was 47,447 km in 2017-18.

Key Investments/Developments

The Union Minister of State for Road, Transport and Shipping has stated that the Government aims to boost corporate investment in roads and shipping sector, along with introducing business-friendly strategies that will balance profitability with effective project execution.

Some of the key investments and developments in the Indian roads sector are as follows: 

  • The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) has been awarded a contract to build five all-weather access tunnels worth Rs 23,000 crore (US$ 3.57 billion) in Jammu and Kashmir by 2024.
  • The first phase of construction work of Mumbai's 29.2 km long coastal road is expected to begin in April 2018, after bids are finalised in March.

Government Initiatives

Some of the recent government initiatives are as follows

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), Government of India, has approved the construction of Zoji La tunnel which is a strategic transport project for all-weather connectivity in Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India has sanctioned projects worth Rs 13,411 crore (US$ 2.1 billion) for development of national highways in Assam between 2014-15 and 2017-18.
  • The Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 has been passed by Lok Sabha, Government of India which would result in revenues of Rs 2,300 crore (US$ 358.7 million) for national waterways in the country.
  • The Government of India has succeeded in providing road connectivity to 85 per cent of the 178,184 eligible rural habitations in the country under its Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) since its launch in 2014.
  • The land acquisition process and detailed project reports (DPR's) for the Bharatmala Pariyojana are underway and the first project is expected to be awarded before the end of 2018, according to Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways.
  • The state government of Kerala plans to raise Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.54 billion) from non-resident Keralites (NRKs) to finance the development of two highways in the state and support NRKs in the long-term.
  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India plans to implement 'Value Engineering Programme' in order to promote use of new technologies and material in highway projects being executed in India.

Road Ahead

The government, through a series of initiatives, is working on policies to attract significant investor interest. The Indian government plans to develop a total of 66,117 km of roads under different programmes such as National Highways Development Project (NHDP), Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in North East (SARDP-NE) and Left Wing Extremism (LWE). The government has identified development of 2,000 km of coastal roads to improve the connectivity between ports and remote villages. 

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) plans to build 50,000 km of roads worth US$ 250 billion by 2022 as part of a long-term goal of doubling the length of the national highway network to 200,000 km.

The Government of India will spend around Rs 1 lakh crore (US$ 15.26 billion) during FY 18-20 to build roads in the country under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

The Government of India has decided to invest Rs 7 trillion (US$ 107.82 billion) for construction of new roads and highways over the next five years.

Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.015 as on January 04, 2018

References: Media Reports, Press Releases, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, NHAI website, Press Information Bureau (PIB), Union Budget 2017-18, BMI Research

Note - ! - As per rating agency ICRA, * According to Mr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India.