History of Road Development in India

History of Road Development in India

The first evidence of the construction of roads in India was found around 2800 BC. The history of road development in India is described below:

Indian civilization is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The excavations of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa discovered the existence of roads in India during the period 2500 to 3500 BC. The ancient scriptures refer to the existence of roads during the Aryan period (400 BC). The Mauryan Kings (200 – 400 BC) build very good roads. 

History of Road Development in India || Highway Engineering

⇰ Chandragupta constructed a 2,400 Km long road from Pataliputra (modern Patna) to Takshashila (now in Pakistan). During the Gupta period(300-500 AD )development of roads received great momentum. During the Pathan and Mughal periods, the roads of India were greatly improved. Sher Shah constructed the Grand Trunk Road.

⇰ At the beginning of British rule, a number of old Mughal roads were metalled and some new roads were constructed during the period of Lord William Bentinck. In 1865 Lord Dalhousie formed the Central Public Works Department. Immediately with the development of railways, the attention of the Government was shifted from road development. 

⇰ In 1927 Jayakar committee was formed to examine and report on the question of road development in India. Most of the recommendations of the committee were accepted by the government and the major items were implemented subsequently. The Central Road Fund was formed in 1929 for meeting up the expenses of road development and research works. 

As per the recommendation of the Jayakar committee, the Indian Roads Congress was established in 1934 for controlling standardization specifications and recommendations regarding the design and construction of roads and bridges but the economic depression at that time delayed the road development programme.

⇰ After the Second World War, there was a revolution in respect of automobiles using the roads in India. The need for proper highway planning was urgently felt at that time. In 1939 the Motor Vehicles Act was passed to regulate road traffic. In 1950 the Central Roar Research Institute was started at New Delhi for research in various aspects of highway engineering. 

A conference of the Chief Engineers of all the states and provinces was convened in 1943 at Nagpur to finalize the first road development plan (Nagpur Road Plan) for the country. Subsequently, a twenty-year development programme for the period 1943 -63 was finalized. The target road length at the end of this programme was 16 KM per 100 square Km area of the country. The total target of the Nagpur plan was achieved about two years ahead in 1961.

⇰ In 1961 a committee was appointed to prepare the Second Twenty-year (1961-81) Road Development Plan (Bombay road plan). The target road length at the end of this programme was almost double that of the Nagpur plan. The construction of 1600 Km Expressways was also included in the plan. The total length of all categories of roads achieved by the year 1974 was 11.45 lakhs Km which is higher than the target.

The Highway Research Board was set up in 1973 to give proper direction and guidance to road research activities in India. In 1978 the National Transport Policy Committee (N.T.P.C) was appointed by the government of India to prepare a comprehensive national transport policy for the country. The N.T.P.C report was made available in 1980 and many of the major recommendations of this report have been accepted by the government.

⇰ The Third Twenty years. (1981-2001) Road Development Plan (Lucknow Road Plan)Was approved in the year 1984. Some of the important features of this plan are improvements of transport facilities in villages, towns and small cities conservation of energy, preservation of environment and improvement of road safety. This twenty-year plan aims at increasing the total road length from 15 lakhs Km in 1981 to 27 lakhs Km in 2001. The present road plan has set the target length of NH to be completed by the end of the ninth five-year plan period.

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