Uttar Pradesh, until not so long ago, was known for its pot-holed roads that made one break the journey instead of complete it. Today, the state has emerged as the expressway capital of the country with 13 expressways — six expressways having been completed and seven under various stages of construction.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday, inaugurated the sixth 296-km-long Bundelkhand Expressway that directly connects with Delhi. It will connect the backward districts of the region such as Chitrakoot, Banda, Mahoba, Hamirpur, Jalaun, Aurraiya and Etawah.
According to a government spokesman, “Realising that infrastructure is the growth engine of the economy and roads are the mirror of progress, the double engine Bhartiya Janata Party-led government has worked extensively for the rejuvenation of roads and improving connectivity.”
The access-controlled road network is being developed by the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), the agency set up by the state government to steer its expressway expansion programme.
All the four expressways, interlinked, will bring the remotest and backward regions closer to not only state capital Lucknow but also Delhi and beyond, opening up markets and giving a big boost to socio-economic development in the region.
“These corridors will give impetus to rapid, balanced and inclusive growth as well as immense employment potential. Lands have been marked for this. Airstrips are also being built on the expressways for landing and take-off of Air Force aircraft in case of emergency,” said Avanish Awasthi, UP Home Secretary and Chief Executive, UPEIDA.
While the Yamuna expressway, which came up in 2012, and the Agra-Lucknow Expressway that opened to public in 2018 started the trend, it is the four new expressways: the 340-km Purvanchal, 296-km Bundelkhand, 91-km Gorakhpur Link, and the 594-km Ganga expressways that are scripting a silent transformation in the state.
Once these are complete, UP would have a network of 1,788 km of expressways in all, the highest in the country. Currently, the total expressway network in India is around 1,822 kilometres which has earned UP the sobriquet of ‘Expressway Pradesh’.
The government spokesman said that from village streets to block headquarters and district headquarters, a network of roads connecting other states and other countries has been created. He said that apart from boosting connectivity, the expressway network will also spur economic activity in eastern UP, bring investment and jobs.
Also, the foundation stone of the 594 km-long Ganga Expressway has been laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This expressway will not only reduce the distance between East and West but will also serve to connect people.
Additional Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal said, “The industrial hubs are being developed but we are already seeing the impact of the high-speed expressways.” Not only will the expressways bring the remote areas of the region on the expressway network, it will drastically cut down the travel time.
For instance, the travel time between Delhi and Chitrakoot district in Bundelkhand will come down to eight hours from 12-14 hours now via the Yamuna, Agra-Lucknow, Purvanchal and Bundelkhand expressways. Currently, there is no direct road link between Delhi and the Bundelkhand region.
While work is underway on the expressways, UPEIDA is also working on creating industrial hubs around the area. Work is also underway on the defence corridor project, where land is being allotted to defence companies to set up their manufacturing unit.
“Take for instance the famed mangoes from Malihabad. Mangoes are a highly perishable commodity. But the Agra-Lucknow expressway has meant that the mangoes get transported to Delhi and beyond during the season,” Sehgal added.
According to Awasthi, one of the main reasons for the change in work culture was because of the push given to infrastructure development by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
“UPEIDA was empowered to make quick decisions, be it land acquisition, getting forest and environment clearance, shifting utilities, etc. We managed to get environment clearance for Purvanchal and Bundelkhand expressways in record time,” he said.
The fast-track decision-making and availability of land ensured that developers promptly came forward to bid. Another reason that developers were confident to take up projects was because UPEIDA did not keep their dues pending for long.
This is also the first time that a small stretch of two of the expressways – Agra-Lucknow and Purvanchal – has been converted into an airstrip, for emergency landing of flights.
Expressway network in UP
1. Yamuna expressway – 165 km
2. Noida-Greater Noida expressway – 25 km
3. Agra-Lucknow expressway – 302 km
4. Delhi-Meerut expressway – 96 km
5. Purvanchal expressway – 341 km
6. Bundelkhand expressway – 296 km
Total length 1,225 km
Expressways under construction
1. Gorakhpur Link expressway – 91 km
2. Ganga expressway – 594 km
3. Lucknow-Kanpur expressway – 63 km
4. Ghaziabad-Kanpur expressway – 380 km
5. Gorakhpur-Siliguri expressway – 519 km
6. Delhi-Saharanpur-Dehradun expressway – 210 km
7. Ghazipur-Ballia-Manjhighat expressway – 117 km
Total length (under construction) 1,974 km
(With IANS inputs)