The total length of 4-lane or above NH stretches has more than doubled in the past 10 years and maximum growth has been recorded between 2018 and 2021 when 9,000 km of NH was expanded to this category, official data shows. The share of NH stretches that are less than two-lane has fallen, indicating that sharper focus on building wider highways is yielding results.
As per official data, the total length of single-lane highway as on May 31 was 29,693 km, which was 21% of the entire 1.39 lakh km NH network compared to 29% in 2018. It also shows that there has been a significant increase in the length of twolane or two-and-a-half lane NHs in recent years.
But the most significant increase has been in the segment of four-lanes and above. Data also show that while the annual average increase in the four or more lanes NH stretches was barely 800 km between 2011 and 2015, this went up to 2,233 km during the 2015-18 period. But in the last three years, the average annual increase was 3,000 km.
“Now there is a greater focus on wider highways, Greenfield expressways and economic corridors. We will see a quantum jump of completed stretches under this category by 2024,” said a highway ministry official.
Meanwhile, on the recent trend of increased competition among firms to bag highway projects quoting low prices, Union highways minister Nitin Gadkari said this is because the era when a few big players in the sector created cartels is over.