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India: The Road System
Country Study > Chapter 6 > Character and Structure of the Economy > Transportation > The Road System


India has nearly 2 million kilometers of roads: 960,000 kilometers of surfaced roads and more than 1 million kilometers of roads constructed of gravel, crushed stone, or earth. Fifty-three highways, just under 20,000 kilometers in total length, are rated as national highways, but they carry about 40 percent of the road traffic. To improve road transportation, significant efforts were begun in the 1980s to build roads to link major highways, to widen existing roads from single to double lanes, and to construct major bridges.

These road-building achievements represent an impressive expansion from the 1950 total of 400,000 kilometers of roads of all kinds, but more than 25 percent of villages still have no road link, and about 60 percent have no all-weather road link. These statistics, however, mask important regional variations. Almost all villages in Kerala, Haryana, and Punjab are served by all-weather roads. By contrast, only 15 percent of villages in Orissa and 21 percent in Rajasthan are connected with all-weather roads. The quality of roads, including major highways, is poor by international standards. Nonetheless, roads carry about 60 percent of all passenger traffic.

The central and state governments share responsibilities for road building and maintaining roads and for some transportation companies. The Ministry of State for Surface Transport administers the national highway system, and state highways and other state roads are maintained by state public works departments. Minor roads are maintained by municipalities, districts, and villages. Still other roads, about 22,000 kilometers in total in 1991, are under the jurisdiction of the Border Roads Development Board, a central government organization established in 1960 to facilitate economic development and defense preparedness, especially in the north and northeast.

Data as of September 1995

Last Updated: September 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

India Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 198 of 374


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