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Road infrastructure in India: A snapshot of its current status and future 

India has a vast and diverse road network. But how did it grow, and what does the future look like for this sector?

road infrastructure in india

National highways are crucial for the country’s economic and social growth. They make it easier for passengers and supplies to move around more efficiently and provide better access to markets. India has more than 6.3 million kilometres of roads, making it the world’s second-biggest network.

The government of India has been pouring resources into improving road transport in India. Building highways, economic corridors, and feeder roads are all part of the overall objective to enhance and expand the existing roadways, which is why significant initiatives like Bharatmala Pariyojana are taking place. 

In today’s article, we will talk about the road infrastructure sector in India while focusing on the past, present, and future prospects of the industry.

What is the road infrastructure in India?

The development of the network connecting the nation’s metropolitan areas, cities, and localities has led to a steady rise in the use of roads for transportation. Travel and freight traffic on India’s roads is unparalleled. As a result of the expanding middle class, more affordable vehicles, and better road networks, road mobility has been steadily increasing.

There are four distinct types of roads in India:

National highways:

You can find these crucial roadways all over India, linking the many cities and towns. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) maintains these highways, where each one has a distinct four-digit number.

State highways:

These routes link the main urban areas within a state. Each has a distinct two-digit number and is kept by the state government.

District roads:

These routes link the several smaller settlements that make up a district. The district authorities are responsible for their maintenance, and each one has a distinct three-digit number.

Rural roadways:

These roads link rural communities to major highways throughout the nation. The local panchayats are responsible for their maintenance, and each one has a distinct four-digit number.

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Growth of the road infrastructure sector in India

The British East India Company began a gravel road development initiative in the 1830s for administrative and economic reasons. After that, in the 1850s, the Grand Trunk Road was built from Calcutta to Peshawar via Delhi and Bombay; further roads were built from Bombay to Pune, Agra, and Madras. 

An Act of Parliament in 1988 created the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), a separate institution that came into operation in 1989. 

With the passage of the National Highways Act, NHAI was given the authority to build, repair, and oversee the country’s road system. However, the turning point was the introduction of broad economic liberalisation in India in the first years of the 1990s. A growing portion of India’s road network expansion has been privatised since 1995 by NHAI.

The nation’s road network has been the subject of intense modernisation initiatives since the 1990s. The government’s National Highways Development Project is currently carrying out significant projects. Roadway operators and private builders are also implementing significant developments.

Current industry scenario: Initiatives taken by the Ministry of Roads and Highways

Regarding efficiency and innovation, India’s road infrastructure industry is unmatched. Using the Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM), the Indian government has implemented sixty road projects with a combined value of more than 10 billion rupees.

HAM has improved the sector’s overall performance by increasing public-private partnerships (PPPs) and striking an optimal risk balance between the two.

In FY22, India managed to build 10,457 km of roadways, despite the pandemic. For the fiscal year 2023–24, the government has set aside Rs. 2.7 lakh crore, or about $33 billion, to fund highways and road construction in India. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways completed 6,318 kilometres of national highways in FY23.

India’s road network has expanded by 59% in only nine years, surpassing all except China’s. With a total of around 64 lakh kilometres of roads, India’s National Highways network increased to 145,240 km in 2022–23 from 91,287 km in 2013–14.

Between January and October of FY24, 4,474 km of national highways were built, with a further 2,595 km granted. 

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Government initiatives:

Phase one of the Bharatmala project would see 34,800 km of road construction in India, along with 27 greenfield corridors.

The Gati Shakti initiative in India has prioritised road infrastructure projects among 81 other high-impact initiatives. The Delhi-Mumbai, Amritsar-Jamnagar, and Saharanpur-Dehradun highways are important highway construction projects. 

This program’s primary objective is to fully digitise the authorisation procedure so that it can be completed more quickly via the Gati Shakti portal. 

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) took a giant leap forward in August 2023 in their mission to enhance the highway experience for users with the launch of ‘Rajmargyatra,’ a citizen-centric mobile app. 

Travellers may get detailed information on the Indian National Highways and a straightforward method for submitting complaints using this intuitive app.

The government has also announced several incentives to encourage private sector involvement and FDI. Over the last nine years, the Ministry of Roads and Highways has prioritised projects worth more than 50 lakh crore rupees and simplified the process of contract clearance by improving laws.

Future outlook of the road infrastructure sector

According to Nitin Gadkari, India’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways, the country plans to improve its road network to compete with the United States over the next five years. He pointed out that the government’s main objective is to lessen traffic in the metro, minimise commute time, and cut down on casualties on the road.

With an allocation of about $1.4 trillion, the government has significantly boosted infrastructure investment until 2025. After revising the allocation for the previous year to ₹1.67 lakh crore, the finance minister significantly increased the amount to ₹1.68 lakh crore for the 2024-25 fiscal year, benefiting the state-owned National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

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List of road infrastructure companies in India

Below is a list of companies in the road infrastructure sector in India, ranked by market capitalisation on BSE (as of February 26, 2024).

CompanyMarket cap (₹ cr.)Net profit (₹ cr.)Share price % returns (1Y) as of February 26, 2024
Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd.56,243.421,267.97323.06%
NCC Ltd.16,057.18569.21183.82%
G R Infraprojects Ltd.12,008.29851.7714.83%
PNC Infratech Ltd.11,308.25611.4752.07%
Man Infraconstruction Ltd.8,095.12165.99172.59%

Conclusion

The development of India’s roads has been integral to national growth, evolving from humble beginnings under British rule to today’s ever-expanding highways. With the government and private sector focused on infrastructure upgrades, the future is paved for better connectivity and improved safety.

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StockGro Team

StockGro is India’s first and largest ‘Social Investment’ platform aimed at helping you master the art of “Trading & Investment”. Trade, Invest and get rewarded to Learn everything about ‘Investments’ the fun-filled way.

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