One of achievements of the previous NDA government is the 5846-km Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) highway. It is designated as one of the longest highways in the world. It is basically a network of highways that connect the four major metropolitan cities of the country in four directions – Delhi (North), Chennai (South), Kolkata (East) and Mumbai (West) – thereby forming a quadrilateral, and hence the name Golden Quadrilateral.
Launched in 2001, this was the largest highway and a very ambitious project. The project, which was undertaken by the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) and managed by National Highways Authority of India (N.H.A.I), was launched by the then prime minister Atal Behari Vaijpayee. The planning for the project was completed in 1999 but the construction work officially started in 2001. Though it was estimated to be completed by 2006, it actually became operational in January 2012. The Golden Quadrilateral project included construction of new express highways, including renovation and extension of the existing highways to four or six lanes.
Major cities covered under Golden Quadrilateral highway
The Golden Quadrilateral provides efficient transportation links between major cities of India, like New Delhi; Jaipur, Udaipur, Ajmer (Rajasthan); Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar (Gujarat); Mathura, Varanasi, Agra, Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh); Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra); Bangalore (Karnataka); Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh); Chennai (Tamil Nadu); Bhubaneswar (Orissa) Kolkata (West Bengal) etc.
The four sections of the Golden Quadrilateral
- Section I: This covers National Highway 2 (NH2) from Delhi to Kolkata. Total stretch is 1454 km. States covered are Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Major cities include Delhi, Mathura, Faridabad, Agra, Allahabad, Firozabad, Kanpur and Varanasi.
- Section II: This covers NH6 from Kolkata to Chennai, NH60 (Kharagpur to Balasore) and NH5 (Balasore to Chennai). Total stretch is 1684km. States include West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.
- Section III: Total stretch is 1,290km. It covers parts of NH4 (Mumbai to Bangalore), NH7 (Bangalore to Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu) and NH46 (Krishnagiri to nearby Chennai). States include Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
- Section IV: Covering parts of NH 8 (Delhi to Kishangarh), NH 79A (Ajmer bypass), NH 79 (Nasirabad to Chittaurgarh) and NH 76 (Chittaurgarh to Udaipur), the stretch is 1,419km. States include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and New Delhi. Major cities connected are Delhi, Ajmer, Udaipur, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai.
Major highlights of the Golden Quadrilateral
- It is the largest highway project completed in India.
- It is the fifth longest highway project in the world.
- The overall length of the Golden quadrilateral is 5,846km.
- The Golden Quadrilateral passes through 13 states of India.
- The Golden Quadrilateral constitutes only the national highways of the country and not state highways and rural-urban roadways.
- The project was estimated to cost INR600bn but was one such project which was completed at about half of the estimated costs at INR308.58bn.
Benefits for the country
- Provides faster transport networks between major cities and ports
- Provides connectivity to major agricultural, industrial, and cultural centres of India
- Provides smoother movement of goods and people within the country
- Enables industrial development and job creation in smaller towns through access to varied markets
- Farmers are able to transport their produce to major cities and towns for sale and export, and there is less wastage and spoils.
- More economic growth through construction and indirect demand for steel, cement, and other construction materials
- Giving an impetus to truck transport