India’s roads and highways – both national and state - are the dominant mode of transportation in the country today. They carry over 85% of India’s passenger traffic and about 60% of its freight, making them critical for India’s economic development.
In terms of length, India’s road network is the third largest in the world (4.2 million km) after China (7.9 million km) and the United States (6.6 million km). In terms of density, India’s roads and highways - at 0.66 km of roads per square kilometer of land –are similar to the United States (0.65) and much denser than in China (0.16) or Brazil (0.20).
Since the mid-1990s, the World Bank has worked with the Government of India to develop and manage its vast network of roads and highways. Bank support focuses on developing better and safer roads in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. It seeks to strengthen road management institutions, construct new highways or improve existing ones, and ensure their long-term maintenance. It also places special emphasis on road safety.
State highways: In a number of states, the World Bank is helping upgrade state highways and raising the operational efficiency of the states’ main road management agencies. It is helping identify the core network of roads, building better information and asset management systems, piloting new contracting approaches, introducing innovative ways of involving the private sector, and improving road safety.
National highways: The World Bank has helped upgrade sections of the Golden Quadrilateral, including stretches along the northern arm of National Highway 2 (NH2), the construction of a new bypass of Allahabad town, and four-laning stretches of the Lucknow -Muzaffarpur corridor (NH28). It is now helping improve connectivity in three low-income states (Bihar, Orissa and Rajasthan) as well as the less developed regions of two middle-income states (Karnataka and West Bengal).
In addition, the Bank is helping enhance the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to better manage the highway network, and improve road safety.
The Bank is also financing a technical assistance loan to improve the operational processes and systems of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).