Confusion in numbering systems of National Highways

Col Sorojit Singh Khulem *

A view of a Road in Tamei and Tousem Sub Division in Tamenglong District
A view of a Road in Tamei and Tousem Sub Division in Tamenglong District :: Pix - Ibomcha Yumnam

1. The Govt of India, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (P&M Section) letter No. NH-14019/9/2007-P & M dt 28 Apr 2010 addressed to the Secretary, PWD, all States/Union Territories amongst other officials concerned States as under :-

I am directed to forward a copy of Notification SO 542 (E) published on 05-03-10 in part II Section 3, Sub-section (ii) in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary and to say that existing number of National Highway does give any indication of its location and direction. Therefore, Ministry has adopted a systematic numbering of National Highways vide above said notification. It will indicate the direction of National Highways whether it is East-West or North South and also the geographical region where it is located.

It is, therefore, requested to re-number the National Highway in place of existing number of National Highway for proper location.

2. Though the new numbering system of the National Highways is supposed to be in vogue with a hope of giving the indication of the location and direction of the National Highway, but there seems to be utter confusion at the moment, as can be seen from news items like 'road blockade on Imphal–Moreh road' being referred as 'road blockade on NH-2' etc. The reason could be many, like - presumption that old NH-39 has been renamed NH-2, difficulty in overcoming old practices, lack of awareness amongst the public etc.

3. Salient features of the Numbering System.

Let us understand the salient features of the system to understand the concept.

(a) All East-West highways now have odd numbers, starting in the North and increasing in number towards the South. In other words, the greater the latitude the smaller the N-H number and vice-versa ie NH-1 in J&K and NH-87 in Tamil Nadu.

(b) Similarly, all North-South highways now have even numbers, starting in the East and increasing in number towards the West. In other words, the greater the longitude the smaller the NH number and vice-versa i.e NH-2 in the North-East States of India and NH-68 in Rajasthan & Gujarat.

(c) Major highways have single- or double-digit numbers. Offshoots of these highways have triple digits (either with or without a suffix alphabet). For example, offshoots of NH 2 are numbered 102, 202, 302 and 502. Offshoots of NH 7 are numbered 107, 307, 507, 707 and 907 Offshoots of NH 15 are numbered 115, 215, 315, 415, 515 and 715 (see the pattern?). Offshoots of NH 66 are numbered 166, 366, 566, 766, 966 (not forgetting 966A and 966B. Please note that the last two digits indicate the Major Highway.)

(d) The new numbering does not mean simply changing the old number with a new number i.e NH-39 changed to NH-2. The New System involves re-alignment of roads by connecting old NHs and joining new constructions to make a NH run either East-West or North-South. For example New NH-27 (Porbandar – Silchar) also known as East-West Corridor is a combination of Old - NH8B (Porbandar-Rajkot-Bamanbor) / NH8A (Bamanbor-Morvi-Samakhiali)/NH-15 (Samakhiali-Radhanpur)/NH-14 (Radhanpur-Palanpur-Pindwara)/NH-76 (Pindwara-Udaipur-Kota-Shivpuri)/NH-25 (Shivpuri-Jhansi-Kanpur-Lucknow)/ NH-28 (Lucknow-Faizabad-Gorakhpur-Muzaffarpur)/NH-57 (Muzaffarpur-Darbhanga-Forbesganj-Purnia)/NH-31 (Purnia-Dalkola-Shiliguri)/NH-31D (Siliguri-Jalpaiguri-Salsalabari)/NH-31C (Alipurduar-Bongaigaon-Bijni)/NH-31 (Bijni-Nalbari-Guwahati)/NH-37 (Guwahati-Nagaon)/NH-36 (Nagaon-Dabaka)/ NH-54 (Dabaka-Haflong-Silchar).

(e) As per the new system of NH numbering there are 218 NHs in India. 78 Major Highways [East-West highways – 44 (NH-1 to NH-87), North-South Highways – 34 (NH-2 to NH-68) and 140 Offshoot Highways.

(f) In the numbering of the Offshoot Highways, the first digit of the three digit number will indicate the direction i.e if the first digit is odd number it says the road is in East-West direction and if even it indicates North–South direction. (There could be a few exceptions like NH-129).

4. NHs (New) which are of concern to the Public in Manipur.

(a) NH-2: The highway starting from its junction with NH-15 near Dibrugarh in the State of Assam connecting Sibsagar and Amguri in Assam, Mokokchung, Wokha and Kohima in the State of Nagaland, Imphal, Churachandpur in the State of Manipur, Seling, Serchip, Lawngtla and terminating at Tuipang in the State of Mizoram. (Old NH-37+NH-61+NH-39+NH-150+NH-54).

(b) NH-102: The highway starting from its junction with NH-2 near Imphal and terminating at Moreh (Indo/Myanmar Border) in the State of Manipur. (Old NH-39).

(c) NH-202 : The highway starting from its junction with NH-2 near Mokokchung in the State of Nagaland connecting Tuensang, Sampurre and Meluri in the State of Nagaland, Jessami, Ukhrul and terminating at its junction with NH-2 near Imphal in the State of Manipur. (Old NH-155+NH-150).

(d) NH-37 : The highway starting from its junction with NH-2 near Imphal, Jiribam in Manipur, Jirighat, Lakhipur, Silchar, Badarpur, Karimganj in the State of Assam and terminates at Indo/Bangladesh Border. (Old NH-53 up to Badarpur).

(e) NH-29 : The highway starting from its junction with NH-27 near Dabaka (Sutargaon), Amlakhi in Assam connecting Dimapur, Kohima, Chizama in the State of Nagaland and terminating at its junction with NH-202 near Jessami in the State of Manipur. (Old NH-36 + NH-39 + NH-150).

(f) NH-129 : The highway starting from its junction with NH-29 near Dimapur in the State of Nagaland, connecting Bokajan, Golaghat and terminating at its junction with NH-715 near Numaligarh in the State of Assam. (old NH-39).

(g) NH-715 : The highway starting from its junction with NH-15 near Tejpur connecting Jakhalabandha, Bokaghat, Jorhat and terminating at its junction with NH-2 near Jhanji in the State of Assam.

5. National Highway Number confusion will remain for sometime till such time the system is fully implemented throughout India, all the NHs are fully sign posted, and people are made fully aware of the new numbering. The old NH-37 in Assam still continues to be known by this number. We also find sign posting AH-1 in Nagaon Sector in Assam and on road from Dimapur to Moreh. I am sure there are many people who do not know that AH-1 stands for Asian Highway-1.

6. My suggestion to the media fraternity. Till such time the National Highway Numbers are known to all the people, I will request everyone to use the Highway Names along with NH number (if known). Example (i) … at Thoubal on Imphal-Moreh National Highway (NH-102). (ii) … at Medziphema on Imphal – Dimapur National Highway (NH-29) (iii) .. at Yaingangpokpi on Imphal-Ukhrul National Highway (NH-202) etc.

This way it will become easier for the public to recognize and remember the National Highway Numbers. Quoting a wrong NH number in news would also amount to misinformation and may create doubts.

* Col Sorojit Singh Khulem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on April 04, 2013.

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