The Lucknow-Kanpur road journey would be reduced to around 30 minutes when the proposed Rs 10,000 crore eight-lane access controlled expressway is ready, possibly by 2018, union road transport, highways and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari has claimed while outlining his ambitious road-makeover plans for the state. At present, it takes 120 minutes to travel from Lucknow to Kanpur by road covering a distance of about 80 kilometres.
Similarly, the Delhi-Meerut travel time would be cut down to 40 minutes on an access controlled expressway. Despite just 60 kilometres separating Delhi from Meerut, chaotic traffic movement on National Highway 58 leads to delays currently. The minister, who was on a two-day visit to the state capital, took nearly 45 minutes to race through various road projects that he has cleared for Uttar Pradesh. He also met chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and spoke of cooperation from the state government for the various projects.
While these facilities would obviously come for a price, one would not be required to waste time making payments on toll-plazas as Gadkari also signaled ‘e-toll’ launches in a phased manner. “If your Lucknow-Kanpur travel time is reduced to 30 minutes, you save on time and fuel. So you would have to pay for the facility,” he said during an interaction here while stonewalling concerns that improved road travel would become a costly affair with multiple tolls and increased road travel charges.
Gadkari’s ministry plans to pump in a whopping Rs 51,500 crore in the state for better road connectivity over the next two years. Upgradation of Ram-Jaanki Marg as national highway, too, has been cleared. This route would cover Ayodhya, Chhawni, Kalwari, Barhalganj, Siwan, Madhubani and Sitamarhi to Janakpur.
Upgradation of Ram Van Gaman Marg – the route Ram took to travel to the jungle as part of his 14 years in exile — as national highway, too, is on the anvil. It is awaiting a no objection certificate (NOC) from the UP government.
UP’s total national highway stretch is of 8,483 kilometres of which 4,500 kilometres is with National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and 3,143 kilometres with the state’s public works department (PWD).
Claiming that he was working on a plan to ensure that nearly 80% of the total traffic across the country plies on national highways – more state highways would be converted to national highways gradually – Gadkari also spoke of the Rs 6,000 crore eastern by-pass project and the Rs 5000 crore 16-lane Delhi to Dasna (UP) project, which he claimed would also help in decongesting Delhi.
Gadkari’s ministry has sanctioned/awarded work amounting to Rs 1,700 crore to develop national highways in UP. He has also approved proposals to develop 17 new national highways totalling 1,715 kilometre length costing Rs 10,000 crore to showcase his ministry’s major infrastructure push in a state where his party has 71 Lok Sabha MPs. Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s Lucknow Lok Sabha constituency would also get a Rs 11,000 crore ring road.
“We will have Rajnathji for bhoomi pujan,” he said. Under Setu Bharatam project, nine railway over bridges and under bridges on all railway level crossings on national highways of UP have been cleared.
“Plans to strengthen and improve 1,400 kilometre road network in border and coastal areas under the Bharat Mala scheme besides connectivity to places of religious interest and tourism are also under active consideration of the minister,” a Gadkari aide said.