Extract from 1998 manuscript”WHAT AILS INDIAN ECONOMY”
“Roadways: According to government statistics, in 1995, India had 1.2 million km of unsurfaced highways(road) and 1.4 million km of surfaced road, which was mostly one lane and partly two lanes.
France, for an area of about 5 50 000 sq. km has road length of about 8 50 000 km. India for an area of about 33 00 000 sq km should have about 5.1 million km of road length. If we take population, France, for a population of about 60 million has 850000 km and India for a population of nearly 1000 million should have a road length of about 14 million km. Germany,for an area of about 3 57 000 sq.km has a road length of 656000 km and India at this rate should have over 5.7 million km of road length. If Germany with a population of about 83 million has road length of 656000 km,India with a population of 1000 million ,should have road length of over 8 million km. Japan for an area of about 378000 sq.km has a road length of 1160 000 km and India for its area should have about 10 million km of road length.Poplation wise also,India with a population of about 8 times that of Japan should have highways of over 9 million km.
From the above, it is clear that India needs to expand its roadways, at least by about two million kilometres of new roads taking the total to about 4.6 million km, widen at least a million kilometres of surfaced road to two/four/six lanes from the existing one/two lanes and convert the 1.4 million kilometres of unsurfaced roads into surfaced roads. There is also an immediate need to construct fly overs at thousands of unmanned and manned railway crossings and road crossings to avoid accidents and to facilitate smooth running of automobile and other traffic on the roads.”
Though the governments at the centre and states have undertaken a number of road projects, these have not changed the situation to any significant extent.