Roads are one of the key infrastructural elements of any country especially when it comes to transportation and communication. In a developing country like India with a high population, road network plays a crucial role. With over 3314 million kilometres of road network, India ranks third in the world in term of its road coverage. Unfortunately, the conditions of the roads are more often than not a great cause for concern. Whether in rural areas or in the heart of a city – bad road situations prevail everywhere in the country. In a city like Bangalore, termed as ‘India’s silicon valley’, it is common to come across roads strewn with potholes. This situation needs to be addressed so the road network can keep up with the country’s rapid growth.
It is not that India lacks quality roads or the effort to develop roads is lacking. Since the 1980s dedicated measures have been undertaken by the government to improve the road infrastructure and the last fifteen years have seen major investments of resources to do so. The density of highway roads in India is higher than that of the United States and the country is expected to spend $70 billion by 2013 to upgrade its road network. Then the obvious question is where does the problem lie? Roads are often being reworked on but unfortunately the repairs do not seem to last that long. Red-tape and infrastructural bottlenecks among the various civic bodies are the prime reasons for this situation. One cannot, however, deny the role of the citizens as well. Their negligence and irresponsible driven also contribute to the state of these roads.
Unfortunately, the various civic bodies do not seem to work well amongst themselves. This results in unfinished work for example: one department will dig up a road but once this job done, the road will be left in that state until another department takes on the responsibility of rebuilding it. Sometimes the amending process is done in a hurry without following the mandates and as a result the life span of the roads is reduced. Again, due to rampant malpractices in the Indian system, roads are not always of the best quality in the first place. The thickness of the prime materials like chip stones are not always properly maintained and roads suffer as a result. Most of India’s roads are bitumen based and unlike concrete roads they require high maintenance which is seriously lacking.
Another major problem is drivers’ attitudes. Very often one will see a heavy vehicle using a road which is not equipped to handle heavy loads. Pedestrians are often at risk and pavements damaged as vehicles such as motorbikes use these pavements to avoid traffic. Cars will often be seen driving over dividers to avoid a simple U-turn. All these lead examples contribute to the wear and tear of roads. With this in mind, not only do roads need better and more frequent maintenance, but a whole new approach to driving and using roads is needed for individuals. Government agencies and Indian drivers need to take responsibility and start contributing positively to the socio-economic development of the country. Unless there is a revision in this attitude, this situation will continue to hinder India’s image and ultimately, growth.