Uttar Pradesh being the India’s most populous State has a current population of over 190 million (2011, COI), contributes around 8.5% to India’s total GDP. The major economy in the State is agriculture oriented and contributes to about 46% of state income. Uttar Pradesh is home to large number of small and medium scale industrial units in the country and of recent, industrial output has been adversely affected due to various reasons one of them being deficiency and availability of adequate raw material.

The importance of transport to an economy cannot be overemphasized. The State has the largest road network in the country after Maharashtra. Road transport is the dominant mode of transportation in the State and is a key input into the agricultural sector, which represents about 40% of GSDP. The State has the largest network of National Highways in India with a total length of 7,818 km (10.18%) out of total NH 76,818 km, followed by Rajasthan 9.21% and MP 6.59%.

An efficient transport system has an important role to play in promoting and strengthening national integration, accelerating productivity, enhancing the competitive efficiency of the economy in the world market and integrating the backward parts of the State with the mainstream of the economy. Given the importance of transport for economic development, the current state of the development of the transport infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh, and future development of the economy, Government of Uttar Pradesh recognized the need to prepare a ‘Comprehensive Road Network Master Plan’ to meet the developmental objectives of the State. This master plan is envisaged to cover network of NHs, SHs, MDRs, ODRs (Rural Roads) in the State of U.P. The current development project is in consonance with the objectives defined in the Master Plan.

Vision for Road Development in UP for 2031

Uttar Pradesh with its 2,36,286 of area (representing 7.2 per cent of India’s share) and with its population of 200 million (representing 16 per cent of India’s) has a great tradition of cultural, spiritual and political strengths and has been the bedrock of past achievement of India and should form the foundation of the country’s future accomplishments. With India having a vision to become the fourth largest economy in the world in the near future, the role UP has to perform assumes great importance. The State has several inherent strengths such as a vast, fertile and irrigated land, a sound agrarian base, a vast human resource and a reputed class of civil engineers. However, it suffers from certain weaknesses such as neglect of education, health, industry and infrastructure in the past. Challenging opportunities present themselves in overcoming the past neglect and taking the State to at least the all-India level, if not surpassing it.

Road Network

According to the latest data available from the State PWD, UP State has about 3 lakh km of road network. PWD (Table) maintains about 1.75 lakh km (58%) and the balance 1.25 lakh km (42%) is constructed and maintained by other departments of the State Government. The inventory of PWD Roads also suggests that about 1200 km is unpaved in the State. About 39% of the road length is rural and village roads maintained by PWD.

About 1.25 lakh km roads are constructed and maintained by various departments in the State, through;

– Irrigation Department

– Mandi Parishad

– Forest Department

– Rural Engineering Service (RES)

– District Board(s) – Zilla Panchayat

– Urban Local Bodies (ULB) – MC (Municipal Corporations & Council), Development Authorities etc. in cities and towns

Table – Road Network Expanse in Uttar Pradesh

Category Length(km) Percentage of total road length in UP(%)
National Highway (NH) 7.737 2.58%
State Highways (SH) 7.354 2.45%
Major District Roads (MDR) 7.208 2.41%
Other District Roads (ODR) 32.838 10.96%
Rural Roads 1,18.160 39.44%
Unpaved Roads with PWD 1.154 0.39%
Total PWD 1,74,451 58.23%
Other Departments 1,25,153 41.77%
Total 2,99,604 100.00%

Source: UP PWD, World Bank Division

Role of Transport System in Improving UP’s Economy

Transport and economic development are closely inter-related, the ones that influence each other. Though the State is having a good network of railways, rail transport has its own limitations, particularly in a State like UP where nearly 80 per cent of its population live in its scattered villages. A good road network is a basic requirement, if the State has to move ahead in sectors like Agriculture, Trade, Industry, Tourism, Health and Education.

Targets laid down in Lucknow Plan (1981-2001) & Achievements / Gaps

The 1981-2001 IRC Road Development Plan, commonly known as the Lucknow Plan had laid down definite norms for determining the length of each category of roads. The targets calculated from the criteria contained in the document (for 2001) (Ref 9) and the actual achievements (in 2011) (Ref 10) are as under:

Category Targets 2001 (Km) Targets in Vision 2021 Document (Km) The reported length up to (3/2011)
NH 5,888 5,864(3) NH-6881
SH 9,637(1)34,497(2) 11,727(3) SH-7957
MDR 59,310 23454(3) MDR-7307
ODR/VR 254,662 Not Given ODR-32986VR-127689UNPAVED-1154 Total286982
Others OTHER-125153
Total 309127

(1)On the basis 50km grid.

(2)On the basis of connectivity to all towns.

(3)On the basis of UP’s area as against India’s area.


It shall be the endeavour of the Government to maintain the entire road network and bridges in a good condition at all times of the year. The roads shall be pot-hole free, have a good riding quality and have the traffic signs and road markings in a good condition. All encroachments shall be removed as soon as noticed. It also suggested carrying out regular traffic census as prescribed by the Indian Roads Congress. A web-enabled road information system, containing the full details of the network, shall be developed on a GIS platform. The maintenance of roads and bridges shall be planned, budgeted and executed on the basis of a computerised Maintenance Management System. Efforts will be made to introduce mechanised maintenance operations with the use of mobile equipment, pot-hole repairing machines and slurry seal machines, gradually reducing the gang-labour oriented manual maintenance operations.

Road Safety

Road safety is a matter of serious concern in UP. Though UP has only 9.4 per cent of India’s vehicle population, the number of fatalities per year is 15.1 per cent of all-India average, as seen below (Ref 13):

Road Accidents in India and Up (2011)

Country/State No. of Fatalities No. of Vechicles Fatalities per 10,000 vechicles
All-India 1,42,485 14,18,65,607 10.04
UP 21,512 1,32,87,232 16.2
UP as percent of all-India 15.09 9.4

It is thus seen that the road safety situation is not comfortable at all in UP and concerted efforts are needed to improve the conditions, particularly of engineering of roads. The solutions needed are:

  1. Widening of roads, as needed by the traffic volume
  2. Provision of shoulders to pavements
  3. Improving the geometrics of roads, particularly radius, super-elevation, junctions, median openings, sight distance etc.
  4. Providing traffic safety features such as traffic signs, road markings reflectorised solar studs etc.
  5. Observing the prescribed norms for safety in construction zones

All future road projects should make a separate provision for these measures. Road Safety Audit should be carried out on all the roads when provisions are made for improvement.