ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Planning for Roads.

Weekly Note from Volume XI, No 3, January 17, 1959.

The seventeen Committees of the Indian Roads Congress which are at work throughout the year have put forward the outline of a new plan for road expansion till the end of 1980-81. It is proposed to expand total road leng t h f r om t he ant icipat ed fig ur e of 3,79,000 miles in 1960-61 to 6,57,000 miles in 1980-81, of which about two-fifths would be surfaced. This will give a network on an average of 52 miles per 100 square miles. The implementation of this programme will cost about Rs 5,200 crores, or roughly Rs 1,300 crores in each fiveyear period after the Second Plan. This large magnitude of expenditure will perhaps be a proportionately small part of total Plan expenditure in successive Plans, even if it appears rather large compared to total outlay in the Second Plan. If Railways are not allowed to get away with a disproportionate share of the total expenditure on transport in future Plans, it should be possible to spare larger resources for roads than has been the experience so far.

The difficulty of attaining these targets is, however, not entirely financial. Administrative confusion and bottlenecks play a large part in delaying road programmes and facilitating fictitious achievement of targets through deteriorat ion of qualit y in const ruct ion. The delegation of authority for road expansion and maintenance to local authorities has not proved satisfactory at all, while financial procedure has encouraged wasteful expenditure towards the end of the fiscal year to avoid lapse of grants. The figures given by Shri W X Mascarenhas in his presidential address to the Indian Roads Congress at Hyderabad show that while the targets for district and village roads are likely to be over-fulfilled by 1960-61, those for national and State highways will not even be approached.

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