Transport, Communication and Trade in India – Geographical Distribution of Roads, Pipeline Transport

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Geographical Distribution of Roads

  • Road density refers to the average length of roads per 100 square km area. The road density in India is still very low compared to the developed countries. High concentration of road network is found in the Northern Plains because of level land, fertile soil, and high density of population. In these parts, unsurfaced roads are more common than surfaced roads. Peninsular plateau has higher proportion of metalled roads because of the easy availability of road building materials. In the north-eastern states, the road network is very sparse due to hilly terrain, thick forest cover, and heavy rains causing frequent floods. Sparse population is also another important reason.

  • The pattern of road density is uneven in the country. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, and Haryana have higher road density. It is because of the growth of agriculture, manufacturing industries, urbanization, and dense population. Karnataka and Maharashtra also fall in this category; reason behind this is the concentration of industries and urbanization.

  • The states of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar have moderate density of roads. In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, the density of road is low due to low population and low economic development.

  • The Himalayan region and North Eastern states have very low density of road network, which is below 20 km per 100 square km area. As regards the pattern of surfaced roads, Punjab in the north, and Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south have the highest road density. The southern states have a good network of metalled roads. The pattern of surfaced road density is more or less the same as the total density of roads.

  • Road density in India is not uniform. It varies from region to region depending upon its relief and climatic conditions, economic development, and density of population.

Roads are divided into three categories:

National Highways

  • They are the trunk roads linking major cities of the country. They are built and maintained by the Central Government. Their total length is 65,500 km. Although the national highways comprise only about 2 % of the total length of surfaced roads in India, they carry about 40% of goods and passenger traffic.

  • There are 219 national highways in the country. Some of them are very important as they carry the bulk of road traffic. National Highway No.7 is the longest (2683 km) of all, linking Varanasi in the north with Kanyakumari in the south.

    • State Highways: They are built and maintained by the State Governments.

    • The District and Village Roads: They are looked after by the local bodies with some financial assistance coming from the states.

  • Border roads have been constructed in the remote parts of the country lying close international border. They connect these areas with the interior parts of the country.

  • The responsibility of their construction and maintenance is on Border Road Organisation. These roads have economic as well as strategic importance. Leh- Manali Road, the world’s highest road, is an example of our engineering skill and courage. The average height of this road is 4270 meters above sea level. Most of our border roads run through areas of very harsh climate and most inhospitable terrains.

National Highways In India

National Highways in India

National Highways In India

Recent Development of Roads under National Highway Development Project (NHDP)

In order to boost economic development in the country the Government of India initiated a programme called National Highway Development Programme (NHDP). NHDP has already completed two phases and third phase is ready to be implemented. The first two phases have the following components:

  • Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) comprising National Highway connecting four metro cities viz, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. Total length of the Golden Quadrilateral is 5846 km. The construction has almost been completed. Out of the total 5846 km four laning of about 4856 km. length has already been completed by 31st May 2005.

  • The second major task was the construction of North-South and East-West corridors comprising the national highways connecting Srinagar to Kanyakumari including Kochi-Salem spur and Silchar to Porbandar. The total length of the corridors is about 7300 km. But very little progress has been made so far. As on 31st May 2005 only four/six laning of 707 km has already been completed. The Government of India has a plan to complete this massive work by December 2007.

  • The third significant task was four laning of about 356 km. of highways to provide connectivity to 12 major ports and 777 km on other highways. As on 31st May 2005, four laning of about 69 km. roads of port connectivity and 287 km. of other National Highways have been completed.

Apart from this National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has already planned another five phases of NHDP.

These are as follows:

  • Four laning of 10,000 km. of National Highways through Built-Operate Transfer (BOT) basis. (Phase-III).

  • Two laning and providing paved shoulders of 20,000 km of National Highway (Phase IV).

  • Six laning of 5000 km of National Highways (Phase V).

  • Development of 1000 km. of Express ways (Phase VI).

  • Construction of Ring Roads, By Passes, Flyovers etc. to remove the bottlenecks on National Highways.

  • Apart from this, development of National Highways and other roads in the North-Eastern Region is planned under Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in North-East Region (SARDP-NE).

National Highways Development Projects of India

National Highways Development Projects of India

National Highways Development Projects of India

Pipeline Transport

  • Pipeline transport has been developed recently in India. It is the most convenient mode of transport for mineral oil, petroleum products, and natural gas. Pipelines connect oil and natural gas fields with refineries and the main market centres. Now solids are also being transported through pipelines after converting them into slurry.

  • There are certain advantages of pipelines over other modes of transport. They are:

    • Pipeline can be laid through difficult terrain as well as under water.

    • Initial cost of laying pipeline is high but subsequent cost for maintenance and operation is low.

    • It ensures steady supply and minimises transhipment losses and delays.

    • Pipeline operation involves very low consumption of energy.

  • There are some limitations of pipeline transport such as the capacity of pipeline cannot be increased once it is laid. The security of pipelines in certain areas and the detection of leakage is difficult.

  • Petroleum pipelines in Assam connect oil fields with the oil refineries of Assam and Bihar. Pipeline between Kandla and Mathura is the longest oil pipe line (1220 km). There are several pipelines in the Gujarat and Maharashtra connecting the oil fields, refineries, and marketing centres.

  • The longest gas pipeline has been laid from Hazira (Gujarat) to Jagdishpur (Uttar Pradesh) via Bijaipur (Madhya Pradesh). This HBJ pipeline is 1730 km in length and supplies natural gas to six fertiliser plants and two thermal power plants. Pipeline transport has reduced the burden of railways significantly. Owing to their advantages, more pipelines have been proposed for smooth supply of oil and natural gas. Gas fired thermal power stations are being set up in the distant and remote parts due to facilities of pipeline transport.

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