Regional connectivity plays a very important role in today’s globalized economy and cross border market places. Transportation has also become an organized industry, aimed at providing the basic amenities to the society like vegetables, medicines, fruits, dairy products, tourism, construction materials etc. A quick, easy and smooth road infrastructure is directly related to various social, economic and political developments taking place at both, national and state levels.

As per the official statistics by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MoRTH), India has the second-largest network of road infrastructure comprising of national & state highways, expressways, and major district and village roads. Currently, the road network of India measures upto about 5.5. million kilometers.

Developing robust road infrastructure is an extremely important public task with which the government is entrusted with. In the last few years, the Indian Road Network has expanded by leaps and bounds. The year 2016-17, witnessed a considerable push being given to expand the Highway Network in the country. A record 16,271 km of National Highways were awarded out of which 8,231 km were constructed. The highest ever average daily construction rate of 133km was also achieved for rural roads.

However, the development of road infrastructure in hilly regions has been facing certain challenges, as a result of which it has been a little bit slow. The government’s role is crucial in states with hilly terrains as many of these places have cultural, religious and economic significance. Further, the roads in hilly areas are strategically significant due to its proximity to international borders and defense establishments.

The MoRTH conducted a detailed review of the road network in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh with an aim to improve road connectivity to coastal/border areas, backward areas, religious places, tourist places etc. Improving road and transport infrastructure in North-East India is a priority for the Government of India. MORTH plans to upgrade 10,141 km of roads in the region through three-phased SARDP-NE, which aims to improve road connectivity in all district headquarters in the North-Eastern region.

To improve tourism activities; enhance the movement of armed forces; develop world-class educational hubs; create market places, strengthened regional connectivity with the help of improved road infrastructure is the only solution. The current scenario presents a grim situation existing in hill terrains with respect to road infrastructure and traffic solutions. With such a trend, regional connectivity seems to be suffering a lot!

Sustained implementation of national policies for the development of road infrastructure in hilly terrains, timely maintenance of the road network, 24×7 patrol assistance, on the spot fines for breaking traffic regulations in these areas, deployment of alert/warning systems, technology fitted parking systems are some of the measures which hill states can adopt for ensuring smooth transportation.

This will ensure the sustainable development of the region along with the safety of human life and property.

(Author is the Lead – Public Policy and Communications at SDC Foundation. He tweets at Writer_Rishabh

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