India - Roads & Highways

India has the second-largest road network in the world, spanning a total of 5.89 million kilometres (kms). This road network transports 64.5% of all goods in the country and 90% of India's total passenger traffic uses road network to commute. Road transportation has gradually increased over the years with improvement in connectivity between cities, towns and villages in the country.

In India, sale of automobiles and movement of freight by roads is growing at a rapid rate. Private sector has emerged as a key player in the development of road infrastructure in India. Increased industrial activities, along with increasing number of two and four wheelers have supported the growth in road transport infrastructure projects. The Government's policy to increase private sector participation has proved to be a boon for the infrastructure industry with many private players entering the business through the public-private partnership (PPP) model. In FY21, there were 125 PPP projects worth US$ 23.25 billion in India.

Highway construction in India increased at 17.00% CAGR between FY16-FY21. In FY21, 13,298 kms of highway was constructed across India. In June 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways constructed 2,284 kms of national highways compared with 1,681 kms in June 2020. The foundation stone was established for nine National Highway projects—with a total length of 262 kms—worth >Rs. 2752 crore (US$ 371.13 million) in Tripura.

The Government of India has allocated Rs. 111 lakh crore (US$ 1.4 trillion) under the National Infrastructure Pipeline for FY 2019-25. The roads sector is likely to account for 18% capital expenditure over FY 2019-25.

  • Under Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana, the Ministry has approved implementation of 34,800 km of national highways in 5 years with an outlay of Rs. 5,35,000 crore (US$ 76.55 billion). Under this scheme, 22 greenfield projects (8,000 kms length) are being constructed; this is worth Rs. 3.26 lakh crore (US$ 43.94 billion).
  • The government also aims to construct 23 new national highways by 2025.
  • The Minister for Road Transport & Highways is targeting to construct 40 kms per day in FY22.
  • NHAI has decided to deploy Network Survey Vehicle (NSV) to enhance quality of the national highways. Carrying out road condition survey using NSV on the national highways was made mandatory for certifying completion of the project and every six months thereafter.
  • Under the Union Budget 2021-22, the Government of India has allocated Rs. 108,230 crore (US$ 14.85 billion) to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • The NHAI awarded 1,330 km of highways in the first half of FY21, which was 1.6x of the total awards in FY20 and 3.5x of the FY19-levels. NHAI, the nodal authority for building highways across the country, has set a target of awarding 4,500km of projects in FY21.
  • Recently, The MSMEs and Road Transport & Highways approved construction of the 158-kms ring road worth Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.37) in Telangana. Also, the Government of India and New Development Bank (NDB) signed two loan agreements for US$ 646 million for upgrading the state highway network and district road network in Andhra Pradesh. The MoRTH also proposed to develop additional 60,000 kms of national highways (in the next five years), of which 2,500 kms are expressways/access controlled highways, 9,000 kms are economic corridors, 2,000 kms are coastal and port connectivity highways and 2,000 kms are border road/strategic highways. The ministry also intends to improve connectivity for 100 tourist destinations and construct bypasses for 45 towns/cities.

The Government, through a series of initiatives, is working on policies to attract significant investor interest. A total of 200,000 km of national highways is expected to be completed by 2022.

In the next five years, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will be able to generate Rs. 1 lakh crore (US$ 14.30 billion) annually from toll and other sources.

Types of Roads


Expressways are high-speed roads that are four- or more lanes, and are access controlled where entrance and exit is controlled by the use of ramps that are incorporated into the design of the expressway. Most of the existing expressways in India are toll roads. Expressways make up approximately 2,091 km (1,299 mi) of India's road network, as of 2020. The government has drawn up a target to build a 18,637-kilometre (11,580 mi) network of new expressways by 2022.

National Expressways Authority of India (NEAI) operating under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will be in-charge of the construction and maintenance of expressways. The NHAI by Government of India aims to expand the expressway network and plans to add an additional 18,637 km (11,580 mi) of expressways by 2022 apart from existing national highways.

Several expressway projects, such as the Chennai-Bangalore Expressway, Chennai-Salem Expressway, Delhi-Jaipur Expressway, Lucknow-Kanpur Expressway are planned/under-construction. Ganga Expressway is approved and expected to be under-construction by end of 2021.

National Highways

National highways are highways connecting major cities throughout the country and are at-grade roads. National Highways are designated with NH, followed by the highway number. Indian national highways are further classified based on the width of the carriageway of the highway. India has 142,126 km (88,313 mi) of National Highways. National Highways constituted 2.7% of India's total road network, but carried about 40% of road traffic. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) are the authorities responsible for the development, maintenance and management of the National Highways in India. The NHAI has been undertaking developmental activities under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) in five phases. From 2018, the pending projects under NHDP are expected to be subsumed under Bharatmala. The NHAI is also responsible for implementing other projects on National Highways, primarily road connectivity to major ports in India.

The Golden Quadrilateral and North–South and East–West Corridor were major ongoing highway development projects in India.

State Highways

State highways are highways connecting major cities throughout a state and are also at-grade roads. They also connect with National Highways or state highways of neighboring states. State Highways are designated with SH, followed by the highway number and preceded by state code.The total length of state highways are 186,528 kilometres (115,903 mi). Maharashtra has the largest share of state highways among all states (22.14%), followed by Karnataka (11.11%), Gujarat (9.76%), Rajasthan (8.62%) and Tamil Nadu (6.67%).

State governments have the authority and responsibility to build state highways. Most of the state highways are developed by state public works departments. Independently of the Bharatmala program, state governments have been implementing a number of state highway projects.

District Roads

District Roads in India are approximately 632,154 kilometres (392,802 mi), of which 14.80% of the total length was surfaced. Zila Parishads also have the authority and responsibility to build district roads.

Rural Roads

Rural roads form a substantial portion of the country's road network, forming 72.97% of the total of roads. The percentage of unsurfaced roads to the total road length was 31%.

For the development of these rural roads, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (Prime Minister's Rural Roads Scheme) was launched in December 2000 by the Indian government to provide connectivity to isolated rural habitations. The scheme envisions that these roads will be constructed and maintained by the village panchayats. In some parts of India, the government has attempted to manage the programme directly as a local social spending program.

In other parts of India, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and a sister program named Bharat Nirman (Build India) have privatized the rural road construction projects and deployed contractors. The effort has aimed to build all-season single-lane asphalted roads to connect India's rural and remote areas. A significant portion of funding for these projects has come from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.