IntroductionA good road transport system is one of the best indicators of the economic and industrial development of a country and its growth. The road network in India has grown from 400,000 km in 1951 to about 3.5 million km at present; India has the second largest road network in the world, next to USA. Today, road transport is by far the most prevalent mode of transport, because of its flexibility, accessibility to remote areas and adaptability to changes for achieving the desired objective of connectivity. Providing road accessibility in under developed areas is an important means of achieving inclusive growth in a developing country like India. The recent improvement in road condition in India is indeed synonymous with the upward trend in our economy. However, still most of National Highway network in India is single or intermediate-laned. Many stretches of existing National Highways are in need of urgent maintenance. Despite these constraints, roadways is gaining market share both in freight and passenger traffic, albeit, at the expense of the railways. Since independence, the market share of road transport has gone up from 12% to 65% in freight and from 32% to 90% in passenger traffic. The trends in vehicle ownership are fast changing in urban as well as rural India thereby ensuring greater degree of mobility and necessitating enhanced levels of road safety.
Development of road network in this scenario is posing many challenges. Putting behind the economic downturn, the Government is now keen to give a big push for mega road projects. The objective is to ensure that total investment in infrastructure projects reaches a level of 9 percent of the country's GDP by 2014 from the current level of 4 percent. But to achieve this objective, there is a dire need to take a fresh look at our Codes of Practices, Guidelines and Specifications, matched by a massive Research and Development effort suiting to our country's need.
Central Road Research Institute New Delhi, a constituent laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is the pioneering organisation in India providing high quality and globally acceptable R&D and consultancy services in the area of roads and transportation sector. Established in 1952, the major activities of the Institute encompass road pavement design and performance, road condition monitoring, pavement deterioration modelling, landslide management and hazard mitigation, improved transportation planning for emerging urban needs, road safety and environment issues, bridges and culverts, etc. Presently celebrating 'Diamond Jubilee' year of its inception, R&D work of CSIR-CRRI over all these years has helped immensely to overcome many a problems of the road transportation sector in India.