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Wednesday 13 March 2013

The National Highways renumbering confusion

How it may matter you while travelling to new places

Announced way back in 2009, the renumbering of all the National Highways in India seems to be incomplete even to date, as you will see passing by many National Highways in India.

The National Highways renumbering– How it may matter to you while travelling to new and unknown places
Representative Image. Photo by : Animeshcmc [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL]

Renumbering of all the National Highways in India seems to be incomplete, confusing and baffling newcomers and travellers at many places, with some stretches of National Highways featuring the renumbered signboards with their new number and with other stretches of the same National Highways still featuring their old number.

Under the new numbering system, North-South highways are even numbered, and East-West highways are odd numbered. (Representative Image). Image by : Pratapkagitha (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The National Highways new numbering system strictly follows the east-west and north-south orientation rules [1]. Under the new numbering system, North-South highways are even numbered, and East-West highways are odd numbered [2].

This renumbering scheme had a good vision in making things simple,as the newly numbered highways would be viewed vertically or horizontally rather than the haphazard direction that some of them at present move in. (Have a look at the maps below with the old/current numbering system, and the new numbering system.)

Renumbering all the National Highways across India was supposed to be completed by early 2010. But even now, in 2013, it is far from done. So, NH-4 connecting Mumbai and Bangalore that should have been renumbered as NH-48 is still NH-4 in official correspondence to date.

Why this might matter to you:
Even three years later, it wouldn’t matter much if the renumbering hadn’t been completed. But, the most problematic thing is that the highways are renumbered on new signboards with the new numbers in some stretches, and they still have the old numbers in other signboards of the same highway.

This can cause a lot of trouble if you are travelling to some new and unknown places, referring to the directions given on travel guides (most of them still maintaining the old NH numbers) or, online maps (of which, some, like Google maps show the new numbers for some highways and old numbers for some.)

For example, you plan something like: Go so many kilometres from point1 to point2 along NH17, take a diversion at point 2... Etc., using the travel guide suggestions or by making the route yourself on an online map, or the ones on your smart phones, if you have one. But, finally when you go in that road, suddenly you see a board, heralding NH 66, you are bound to be surprised, and be full of confusion that, what the heck went wrong, or where did I make a wrong turn. In fact, NH 66 is the new number for NH 17, and in some stretches it features the older number NH17, in some, the newer number NH66.

We have noticed this on many other National Highways too. If you are well aware of routes and the places beforehand, then this will not matter. But, if you are travelling to a completely new place you have never been to, this could lead you to confusion, and momentary bafflement. We ourselves are confused, whether to mention the old number or the newly assigned number to a NH while giving directions in our post.

For example, in our post A blissful morning by the beach, we have mentioned a national highway as NH 17. This highway, in some places has signboards with its new number, NH66, and in some places the signboard shows the old number, NH17.

The official NHAI website still features the old numbers, and nowhere the new numbers are given. The National Highways and their Length pdf document[4] found on their website still gives only the old numbers to highways. A copy of the notification to renumber NH has been published on March 5, 2010 in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary [3].

So, if you come across such a case, do not panic. Just use the maps below with old and new numbers.

Note: Clicking on the above links to the maps images will open them in a new window, and take you to the external website, Wikipedia where these images are hosted.

After looking at both the maps, it will be crystal clear how the renumbering will make things a lot simpler. We hope this renumbering exercise will be completed soon correctly.

How this may not matter to you:
It is always better to use the signboards that show the distance and directions to the places, put up along the highways to find the way to your destination. Even though the NH number may vary on these, the places and the distances definitely will be correct! I guess that is what most people do, and only a few might refer to highway numbers.

What are your thoughts on this?
Does this renumbering jumble affect you? Has it ever affected you somewhere? Or do you never use the highway numbers? Share your thoughts and comments.

This article was published in the year 2013 and may not reflect the current situation regarding the subject.

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