In some ways it can be said that structured road networks have existed in India for almost 5,000 years. The Mohenjo-Daro urban settlement in the Indus valley (estimated population about 35,000) had a rectangular road grid and a system of major and lesser roads.
More recently the Nagpur Plan of 1943 proposed four classes of roads (link) :
- National highways which would pass through states, and places having national importance for strategic, administrative and other purposes.
- State highways which would be the other main roads of a state.
- District roads which would take traffic from the main roads to the interior of the district. According to the importance, some are considered as major district roads and the remaining as other district roads.
- Village roads which would link the villages to the road system.
In 1990 and 1991 the Indian Roads Congress (IRC) (link) published two documents which described urban and rural road hierarchy (refs. 93 and 293). The IRC documents relate road class and terrain to design speed, recommended roadway and carriageway widths
India road classification based on India Roads Congress documents
The website of the national highways authority of India (NHAI) (link) gives the classes as
- National highways
- State highways
- Major district roads
- Rural and other roads
Other road classes
Some of India’s roads can be classed as International Highways, as they are for example part of the developing Asian Highway Network (link) and of the planned Trilateral Highway which will link India with Myanmar and Thailand.
Another road class might be “border roads”, which are roads that serve the border areas of India and which are the resonsibility of the Border Roads Organisation (wiki link).
Concerning rural road classes, in 2007 the government of India started the PMGSY scheme, a programme to provide all-weather road access to presently un-connected rural habitations. The scheme considers the minor rural roads as a core network which consists of through routes and link routes. According to the PMGSY programme guidelines (ref. 282) the programme defines a core network as “that minimal network of roads (routes) that is essential to provide basic access to essential social and economic services to all eligible unconnected habitations in the selected areas through at least a single all-weather road connectivity”. The document appears to define basic access (connectivity?) as (a place) being within 500m of a connected habitation or of an all-weather road. The document also refers to “main rural links”, which suggests there may also be a road class for “minor rural links”.
Perhaps it is time for India to review its road classification, allowing for additional detail at urban and rural levels.
One possible updated India road classification