As the number of vehicles increases on India’s roads, so is the demand for roadways. According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) growth in automobiles and freight movement commands a better road network in India.
“The government has given a massive push to infrastructure by allocating Rs5.97 lakh crore (US$92.2 billion) for infrastructure in the Union Budget 2018 – 2019.” Furthermore, the government also has plans to invest Rs1.45 lakh crore (US$22.40 billion) for road infrastructure in the North East region between 2018 – 2020.
India’s roads make up a total length of 5.6 million kilometers. This is inclusive of state highways, national highways, and district/rural roads.
Schemes in Place for Road Development
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In May this year, the government and the World Bank signed a $500 million loan agreement for the Rural Roads Project, also known as the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
The ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has achieved its better than the best, road promise by connecting the North East and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with the rest of India through highways and rail lines. In its 2014 Elections Manifesto, the BJP had proposed connecting every village through all-weather roads.
It has initiated the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP – NE)for the North East region. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has stated that connectivity has improved, road transportation has become a focus of rapid development.
The Bharatmala Pariyojana should also be noted. It is an umbrella programme that covers the highways. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways states that the programme will optimize the efficiency of freight and passenger movement by bridging critical infrastructure gaps.
Concerns About Quality
Quality is need of the hour. India’s roads are developing and growing at a fast pace but the quality used is something that should be looked into by the government.
According to the Global Competition Report 2011 – 2012, India’s ever-growing population has stretched the poor state of infrastructure to the limits. “The increasing regional and rural-urban disparities implies that major improvement in physical and social infrastructure is absolutely essential to sustain further progress and high rate of economic growth.”
To address this issue, the Government of India in its 2018 – 2019 budget, of the total expenditure, the highest allocation is towards roadworks, which is at 58 percent, that is about Rs 40,881 crore.
While this is applaudable, the government should set up a monitoring body to look into the quality of material used by the contractors. By doing so, the government will ensure quality work. The roads built by government-assigned contractors should be suited to India’s climatic conditions, traffic, and rainfall.
A quality check needs to be done.