(Last Updated on : 30/09/2010)
Network of roadways in India is spread almost in the same areas where the railways are spread. However, roadways surpass railways almost everywhere. Just like railways, roadways are constructed and maintained economically in the plains or hills of low relief. Construction as well as maintenance of the railways is less economical comparatively. Thus, in such areas where roads can be built easily and in much economical way, roadways definitely attain supremacy over the railways. Interestingly, the densest roadway network of the country is found in central West Bengal
that is around Asansol, Tamil Nadu
, plain of Punjab
and some patches in the Ganga Plain.
Roads have preceded railways. Roads still have an edge over railways, in analysis of the effortlessness with which they can be constructed and preserved. They can be made to traverse forests and pass across deserts. Bridges help them cover strong rivers even in times of sudden water gushing. More significantly, they can be brought to everybody`s threshold. Principally, they can carry off higher gradients of slopes and as such can span mountains, such as the Himalayas. Roads are of two kinds, based on their strength and make up - surfaced and un-surfaced. Surfaced roads are the finest. Surfaced roads may be constructed of cement, concrete or even bitumen or tar and coal. The surfaced roads therefore are all weather purposed. Un-surfaced roads are of little use in the Indian rainy season.
Since Independence of the country, surfaced roads have increased by more than eight times. All the national highways are surfaced roads and state highways are also surfaced to the tune of around 97 per cent. National Highways comprise the leading arterial routes. Further, they alone account for the major proportion of the total road transport demand of the country. The importance of un-surfaced roads, however, cannot be downplayed. These roads open up the countryside to the contemporary methods of living and value system, based chiefly on money. Majority of this traffic is carried through un-surfaced roads.
Regions of the lowest density of roads are very thinly peopled such as the arid western Rajasthan
, forested and hilly Bastar District
, rugged Himalayas and the Satpura Range. Interestingly, the trunk roads often follow the ancient tracks that are not direct. But over the years, with the tremendous increase in the buses and trucks traffic, many roads have been broadened and made straight and developed. Further, in the plains of Northern India, road building material like stone, burnt bricks, etc. are not cheaply available because of long distances. Stone is available near the foot-hills of the Himalaya Mountains
. At this region, boulders are collected and broken into pieces that form the source of road constructing material in this alluvial plain.
Improved road communication has been considerably extended almost in all the regions of the country. Moreover, in India, border roads are considered important from the defence point of view. Villages that were initially cut off during the rainy season have now been well connected with the main roads. Buses, cars and trucks have progressively multiplied their number on the roadways in the past few decades.