A 9 km long section of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) 
Snapshot
  • Ten projects which will have long term and far reaching effects on Indian transportation, urbanisation, and economy.

India has one of the world’s longest road network spanning over a total of 5.6 million kilometer (km), comparable in terms of length to that of the US and China.

However, when it comes to the quality of roads, India lags far behind players like China, which has developed an expressway network exceeding 140,000 km in the last few decades. China’s expressway network forms nearly 3 per cent of its total road network of around 4.8 million km. In India’s case, which has developed only around 1,500 km of expressways, this is limited to little over 0.02 per cent.

But this is set to change over the next decade as India has already embarked on a massive expressway building drive which aims to construct 15,600 km of high-speed road corridors by 2022. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said the focus in 2019 would be to build a network of "world-class expressways".

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The speed of construction, too, has improved significantly. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the 135-km-long Eastern Peripheral Expressway in May last year, which had been built in a record time of 17 months.

Here are some of the longest expressways projects in India that are either being implemented currently or on the drawing board:

1. Delhi-Mumbai Expressway

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This signal-free access controlled corridor, which will run through five states to connect India's political and economic capitals, will be the country's longest once complete. Announced by the government in April last year, work on the expressway will begin in March 2019 and the target is to have it completed by March 2022. The 1,250-km long expressway will cut down the travel distance between Delhi and Mumbai by 250 km, and time for cars from 25 hours (through NH-8) to 12 hours and for trucks from 44 to 22 hours. It will also help reduce traffic on NH-8, which, according to some accounts, is used by around three lakh vehicles every day.

The National Highways Authority Of India (NHAI) is acquiring about 12,000 hectares for the project for the expressway, which will have a 80 km stretch in Haryana, 380 km in Rajasthan, 120 km in Gujarat, 300 km in Madhya Pradesh and 370 km in Maharashtra. Reports suggest that the process of land acquisition has been completed in Haryana while it is at different stages in other states. Construction for the Vadodara-Mumbai stretch is already underway, NDTV has reported.

After deciding on a new alignment for the expressway, the government will be able to save over Rs 16,000 crore in land acquisition.

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"While an acre is coming in at Rs 7 crore according to the original alignment, the new alignment has brought it down to Rs 80 lakh a hectare. The land alone will cost around Rs 6,000 crore," the Times of India has reported.

The work on the expressway has been divided into 34 stretches. Tenders have been floated for multiple stretches and bids for six stretches in Haryana and Rajasthan for a total of 173 km have been received. NHAI is likely to complete tendering-related work for 22 other stretches by mid-February this year.

2. Purvanchal Expressway

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This is a 343 km long under-construction six-lane, access-controlled highway that will connect eastern Uttar Pradesh, one of the least developed parts of the country, to the state capital of Lucknow. The expressway will will provide uninterrupted connectivity to nine districts of Barabanki, Sultanpur, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Mau and Ghazipur, and will be linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi through a special link road. Construction of the expressway will cost Rs 23,000 crore.

The Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) has divided the project into eight packages. Gayatri Projects, GR Infra and PNC Infratech have been awarded two packages each while Apco and Oriental have been awarded one package each. When the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government took office, it canceled earlier bids alleging that they were overpriced as bidders "worked as cartels".

“The last time the bids were almost 10.97 per cent overpriced because construction companies joined hands and worked as cartel. They identified their own packages and bade accordingly. The UPEIDA was able to break the cartel and new bids are almost 10 per cent less which will save a round Rs 600 crore,” a senior UPEIDA official has said.

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3. Delhi-Meerut Expressway

The Delhi-Meerut corridor is India's first 14 lane expressway. The first phase of the expressway, 9 km long, has been built at a cost of Rs 841 crore. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May last year. The total length of the expressway is 96 km and it is being developed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Welspun Enterprises under the 'Hybrid Annuity Model'.

The project, which will reduce travel time between Delhi and Meerut to just 45 minutes from the current 4-5 hour, is expected to cost somewhere around Rs 7,500.

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The remaining 82 km long part of the expressway is likely to be operational by March 2019 while the deadline set by the government is August 2019.

Vehicles from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, not destined for Delhi, will be able to reach Uttar Pradesh using this expressway.

4. Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway

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Also known as the Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, this is a 701 km long, eight lane expressway connecting Mumbai on the western edge of Maharashtra and Nagpur on the eastern end of the state. One of the longest high-speed road corridors in the country, the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway will run through 10 districts, 26 tehsils, and 390 villages in the state and is expected to cut travel time between the two cities to little over eight hours from around 16 hours currently.

The project is being financed through a Rs 2.5 lakh crore loan by a consortium of 20 banks led by the State Bank of India. Land acquisition for the project, which is being implemented by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, has been completed. Compensation has been issued to 90 per cent of the affected farmers. Ground cleaning and levelling work has began on several stretches of the road. The state government plans to commission the expressway by December 2020.

5. Bundelkhand Expressway

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This is a proposed 289-km, four lane access-controlled highway that will connect six districts in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region - Auraiya, Jalaun, Orai, Rath, Banda, Chitrakoot - to the 300 km long Lucknow-Agra expressway. These districts are part of the larger region along the border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh which is considered one of the most backward areas in the country.

Land acquisition for the project has began. The Yogi Adityanath government has already released Rs 640 crore for the purpose. The project will benefit from the Nirmala Sitharaman-led Defence Ministry’s plan to bring the country’s second defence corridor to the Bundelkhand region. The government has identified about 5,125 hectares of land for the development of the defence corridor.

The expressway was recently renamed as Atal path.

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6. Salem-Chennai Expressway

Source of much controversy in Tamil Nadu recently, the Salem-Chennai expressway is a proposed 277 km long, six-lane Green Corridor which will cut down the travel time between Chennai and Salem by three hours and distance by 68 km.

The expressway is proposed to start near the Chennai Outer Ring Road junction and will pass through the districts of Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Salem. It is a part of the Centre’s plan to improve freight movements under the ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ programme. By December 2018, nearly 90 per cent of land acquisition had been completed.

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The project has been met with opposition from farmers and left-leaning activists in Tamil Nadu, which had initially affected the land acquisition process. The Madras High Court had in September 2018 dismissed a petition against land acquisition.

Also Read: Salem-Chennai Expressway Myth-Buster: All You Need To Know

7. Chandili-Rourkela Expressway

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Also called Biju Expressway, this is an under construction corridor stretching over 656 kms from Rourkela in the northern part of Odisha to Chandili in the southern part of the state. The Rs 3,600 crore highway is being built in multiple phases, some of which have been completed and inaugurated.

The 163 km long four-lane stretch of the expressway between Rourkela to Sambalpur, which has been completed, was inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in March 2018. The 41 km stretch between Berhampur and Taptapani has also been completed and opened to traffic. The deadline to complete the remaining phases of the expressway, according to reports, is Match 2019.

Odisha’s KBK districts - Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada, considered the most backward region in the country by the now abolished Planning Commission, will benefit hugely from this expressway. It will connect this region to the Western Odisha districts of Bargarh, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh and to industrial hubs of Chhattisgarh, including Jagdalpur and Raipur.

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8. Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway

This is a proposed eight-lane corridor that will stretch 262 km between Hoskote in Bengaluru to Sriperumbudur in Chennai, cutting down the travel time between the two metropolises to around four hours from six to seven hours currently. It will pass through the districts of Hoskote, Malur (Karnataka), V Kota, Palamaner (Andhra Pradesh), Gudiyatam, Arakkonam and Sri Perambadur (Tamil Nadu). There are two existing routes which connect Chennai and Bengaluru, one is via Hoskote and Andhra Pradesh and the second is via the Electronic City and Hosur. The proposed alignment of the Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway will lie between these two stretches.

The project, which is expect to cost around 17, 900 crore, requires the acquisition of 2,650 hectares of land. Acquisition of land is in the final stages. By December 2018, the Centre had already spent Rs 1,370 crore towards pre-construction activities.

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This will ease the flow of traffic between Bengaluru and Chennai on existing roads. At least 9,500 passenger car units travel between the two cities every day.

The expressway will also cut down the distance between the two cities by around 80 km. The current distance between Bengaluru and Chennai through Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu is around 345 km.

9. Brahmaputra Express Highway

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The Brahmaputra express highway, the first of its kind high-speed road corridor in Northeast India, will stretch along the 890-km bank of the river it is named after, from Sadiya in eastern Assam to Dhubri in the western part of the state. The project is expected to incur an investment of around Rs 40,000 crore.

The construction of the expressway would also help arrest river-bank erosion. Survey work for the project had been launched in January 2017. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowalhas has said that his government has sought support from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for the project.

10. Narmada Expressway

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The Narmada Expressway is a proposed 1,300 km long expressway that will run across the state of Madhya Pradesh, passing through the historic town of Amarkantak on the eastern edge of the state, where the Narmada river originates, Dindori, Shahpura, Jabalpur and Alirajpur in the western end.

While land required for the construction of the expressway will be given by the state government, Centre will be in charge of building the expressway.

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