The Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh has allocated Rs 2,000 crore for the state’s seventh expressway, which will also be its longest, in the budget for the fiscal year 2020-21, the biggest-ever for the state.
The expressway, which is named after River Ganga as it will pass through the districts through which the river flows, will be 1,020 kilometres long.
In the first phase, a 600 km corridor will link Meerut with Prayagraj, passing through Jyotiba Phule Nagar, Sambhal, Badaun, Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Unnao, Rae Bareli and Pratapgarh. The first phase of the four-lane expressway, which can be expanded to six lanes in the future, has to be completed by 2024.
In the second phase, two extensions will be built, one on the eastern end and the other on the western end. A 110 km extension will link the western end of the expressway in Meerut to the state’s boundary with Uttarakhand, near Haridwar.
Its eastern end in Prayagraj will be linked to Balia near the border with Bihar, through a 300-km-long extension passing through Varanasi and Ghazipur.
Meerut is also being linked to the National Capital Region (NCR) through a 96-km expressway — India’s widest with 14 lanes. Once both these expressways are complete, Uttar Pradesh’s 12 eastern districts, among the least developed ones in the country, will have expressway connectivity to the NCR.
Uttar Pradesh has the country’s longest expressway network with two operational expressways, the 302-km Lucknow-Agra Expressway and the 165-km long Yamuna Expressway.
The Purvanchal Expressway, the state’s third, is currently under construction and is likely to be opened to traffic by Diwali this year.
This will be the first expressway to link the eastern districts of the state with NCR through the Lucknow-Agra Expressway and the Yamuna Expressway.
“The main carriageway of the Purvanchal Expressway will be completed in the second half of 2020. That’s when we will start trials on the carriageway. After the trials are complete, we will open the main carriageway to traffic by Diwali 2020,” Awanish Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh government and Chief Executive Officer of UPEIDA, told Swarajya in November.
Two more expressways, the Bundelkhand Expressway and the Gorakhpur Link Expressway, are also in the pipeline — land acquisition for the two is currently underway.
“Around 93 per cent of the land needed for the Bundelkhand Expressway and over 50 per cent of the land required for the Gorakhpur Link Expressway has also been acquired,” UPEIDA officials said in November 2019.
Uttar Pradesh government has already selected four private infra majors, Apco Infratech, Ashoka Buildcon, Gawar Construction and Dilip Buildcon, to execute its ambitious 296-km Bundelkhand Expressway.
The proposed Bundelkhand Expressway will start from Jhansi and pass through some of the most underdeveloped districts of the state like Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur, Auraiya and Jalaun. From Jalaun, the expressway will pass through Etawah district and reach Naseempur via Bateshwar. The expressway will reduce the travel time between Delhi and Chitrakoot by almost eight hours.
Given that the Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor is also envisaged to come up along Bundelkhand Expressway, the government wants to expedite the expressway construction as the twin projects are expected to provide a huge boost to the development in Bundelkhand. It is expected to ushering in faster socioeconomic development in the Bundelkhand and provide direct connectivity to central and western UP.
For the 91-km Gorakhpur Link Expressway, the Uttar Pradesh government selected Apco Infratech and Dilip Buildcon. The link expressway will cover Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar and Azamgarh districts. More than half the required land has been acquired for the project. The project will be executed in two packages.
The Ganga Expressway will be the state’s fifth.
The project will cost Rs 36,000 crore and requires the acquisition of around 6,556 hectares of land. While Rs 13,862 crore will be spent on acquiring land for the expressway, Rs 22,090 crore will be spent on construction. It will be funded by a combination of debt (70 per cent) and equity (30 per cent).
First proposed by the Mayawati government in 2007, the project’s environment clearance was cancelled in 2009 by the Allahabad High Court. It was argued that the alignment proposed was too close to the Ganga river’s channel. Constructing close to the river channel would damage the flood plains of the river.
In January 2019, the Yogi Adityanath government revived the project. To make compliance with environmental laws easier, the government decided to shift the alignment of the expressway 10 kilometers away from the river channel. The final alignment, however, was not readied back then.
In a meeting in May 2019, just days after the Lok Sabha election results, Chief Minister Adityanath had ordered that the survey work for the expressway be started and completed within the next three months.
Three months later, in September, reports said that the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) has finalised two alignments, one of which will be selected for the Ganga Expressway.
(This piece was first published on India InfraHub, and has been published here with permission)