Context: Recently NHAI data reveals that in 2022-23 10,993 kilometres of national highways have been constructed. It is 13.7% less than the goal of 12500 Km. While the pace of the construction of national highways touched a record high of 37 km a day in 2020-21, it slowed to 30.11 km a day in 2022-23.
- The National Highways Authority of India was set up by an act of the Parliament, the NHAI Act, 1988.
- It is aimed at the development, maintenance and management of national highways and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- It has been entrusted with the National Highways Development Project, which along with other minor projects, has vested in it 50329 km of National Highways for development, maintenance and management.
- Its objective is to ensure that all contract awards and procurements conform to the best industry practices regarding transparency of the process, adoption of bid criteria to ensure healthy competition in the award of contracts, implementation of projects conform to best quality requirements and the highway system is maintained to ensure best user comfort and convenience.
- NHAI is mandated to implement National Highways Development Project (NHDP) which is India’s largest-ever Highways Project in a phased manner.
- To meet the Nation’s need for the provision and maintenance of the National Highways network to global standards.
- To meet the user’s expectations in the most time-bound and cost-effective manner, within the strategic policy framework set by the Government of India.
- To promote economic well-being and quality of life of the people.
- To develop, maintain and manage National Highways vested in it by the Government.
- To collect fees on National Highways, regulate and control the plying of vehicles on National Highways for its proper management.
- To develop and provide consultancy and construction services in India and abroad and carry on research activities about the development, maintenance and management of highways or any other facilities there.
- To advise the Central Government on matters relating to highways.
- To assist on such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon, any State Government in the formulation and implementation of schemes for highway development.
Importance of NHs
- National Highways are the arterial roads of the country for the inter-state movement of passengers and goods.
- They traverse the length and width of the country connecting the National and State capitals, major ports and rail junctions and link up with border roads and foreign highways.
- The total length of NH (including expressways) in the country at present is 1,32,499 km.
- While Highways/Expressways constitute only about 1.7% of the length of all roads, they carry about 40% of the road traffic.