India is a country with the second largest road network in the world. Out of the total stretch of 5.4 million km of road network, almost 97,991 km is covered by national highways.
It is already a huge challenge for the Indian government to provide world-class roads, due to the sheer magnitude. To add to it, India has to spend almost around ₹20,000 to ₹30,000 crore on the maintenance of roads every year. The reason behind this is the increase in the private vehicle ownership and the overburdening of roads in all major cities of the country.
For an average Indian youth owning a two-wheeler, driving on any of the major Indian cities, is equivalent to waging a daily war. The everyday struggle and effort of dodging traffic, pollution and rash drivers is the biggest cause of chronic stress and many physiological problems. On an average, a person spends anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours of their day driving. Which means, in a year, it is almost 360 hours. Imagine the kind of stress and unnecessary burden the person is putting on their body. In a country already full of numerous lifestyle-related diseases, the driving and traffic problems is an unnecessary addition.
If India has to maintain its growth, it will require around 15,000 km of new expressways in the coming 10-12 years. The National Highway Authority of India, along with the local corporations, have to work really hard to achieve this target. But this might not be possible if the citizens of the country continue to abuse the roads and traffic rules across the nation. The government mechanism, as well as the citizens, need to work in tandem, if India wants to see any improvement in traffic and eventually in the lives of the citizens.
Below are some of the major traffic problems India is facing today along with some of the possible solutions.
As mentioned earlier, India is the second largest network of roads in the world, covering around 5.4 million kms. Out of it, 26,51,00 are covered by state and national highways. The national highways authority of India (NHAI), is the autonomous agency of the Indian government responsible for maintenance and the expansion of the highways. However, it is alleged to be full of corruption and malpractices when it comes to the construction of roads.
Fraudulent contracts and agreements are said to be made with some favoured contractors. Many times, the contractors are allegedly thought to be using bad quality materials, old technologies and outdated specifications for the building of roads.
Even after 70 years of Indian independence, almost 90% of the passenger and industrial transport is carried out through roads. India has yet not been able to tap into the potential for railway and air transport, due to which there exists a huge pressure on the Indian roads.
In such situations, it becomes difficult to maintain the quality of roads, because most of the roads are overburdened and extremely busy throughout the year. To add to it, India has a varied topography across the country, and the variations in weather and climate make it extremely tough to control the quality of roads.
Most of the Indian cities still have poor public transport systems. Except for Mumbai and Delhi, which are relatively better, the majority of Indian citizens depend on their private vehicles for daily transport.
Even in Mumbai and Delhi, increasing population density puts a big pressure on already existing public transport infrastructure, affecting its quality. People prefer their own transport rather than the inconvenience of public buses or rails.
Urban roads are extremely congested due to heavy traffic caused by private vehicles. This over-usage rapidly degrades the quality of roads, and most of the expenditure meant for expansion of roads is spent on the maintenance. It’s a vicious circle where bad roads cause traffic problems, and the traffic does not allow scope for the development of new roads.
The magnitude of traffic not only creates congestion problems, but also give rise to a lot of other issues. Air pollution and sound pollution are two major issues that are rising to alarming proportions in the recent years.
The recent Delhi pollution should be taken up as a big eye opener for the entire country. It not only affects people who are actually driving but also people who are staying indoors. These issues are creating huge problems for senior citizens and children.
Recently, the odd-even scheme devised by the Delhi CM created a lot of buzz, but did not seem enough, unless it is supported by other grass root level measures. Some of the solutions which can be used are given below.