The Golden Quadrilateral
On the heels of the Golden Quadrilateral Expedition and exploring the highways across India, it intrigued us as to how highways have evolved over the years. You must have noticed the change in the way Indian National Highways (NH) are being treated by Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways. Highways have not only been renumbered, but are now longer and structured.
Given the new directive (passed in 2010), highways starting from north to south are even numbered and those running east to west are odd numbered. NHs running along north-south and east-west are numbered double digit. And that for NHs with even numbers, the number will increase from east to west and for odd number NHs, the numbers will increase from north to south. Here is to give you a better perspective:
You would notice that NH44 is the longest running highway in this scheme and covers close to 3,700 KMs. But the new system has not been implemented with full force. Old numbering system is still in place for a large part of the highways, while the media and general public are yet to adopt the national highway terminology.
Question remains whether it helps road transportation in any major way? While structuring does have implication from removing clutter and redundant information angle, for highways in India, it helped align the development that had been done in the road networks across India. Ministry says that it will make it simpler for travellers as average travel distances have been increasing and using the old system would only make things worse. It seems to be a step in a right direction, but what was to complete in 2010 is yet to be formally completed.
Then there are projects that have been implemented with clear outcomes in mind. To not only make road transport better, but to encourage greater trade possibilities and reduced transportation time and cost. One such project was National Highway Authority’s (NHAI) Golden Quadrilateral. The NDA government PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji laid the foundation of Golden Quadrilateral that was to connect major industrial, agricultural and cultural hubs across India. Running close to 5,846 KM, Golden Quadrilateral was completed in 2012 at the cost of $5 Billion (almost half of initial budget of $9.7 Billion).
It had a wider implication on enabling faster transport network between major Indian cities, better transportation of produce from farmland to markets and industrial and economic development of small towns.
Other is the Asian Highway Network that was initiated in 1959 to promote better trade between Asian countries and connecting them with a wider European landscape. The Great Asian Highway project is a cooperative project among Asian and European countries to improve highway system in Asia. While most of the funding for this project is coming from countries such as Japan, India, China and ADB (Asian Development Bank), many other Asian countries have agreed to allow their existing highway network to enable road network across the continent and to Europe.
Termed as AH, multiple highways traverse various countries across the continent. This project was initiated in 1959, but was stopped because of financial constraints. It was restarted in 1992 and was given a new breather.
The planned network that runs through India is close to 11,450 KMs that covers a part of AH1, which is the longest route of Asian Highway Network. You can now see AH1 signages on highways traversing from north-east (NH 39) to Attari (following NH 1 & NH 2) leading to west of Istanbul where it connects with European route E80. Running 20,557 KM! and is the longest route of the Asian Highway Network.
So, where are you heading?
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