Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport, on Wednesday announced a Delhi-Amritsar expressway to cut the journey from around seven hours now to two hours and 30 minutes by reducing the 450km distance by 117km.
Further, he announced a 508-km highway between Jalandhar and Ajmer for a trade route to Mumbai. But he shared no deadline as he addressed functions in Rupnagar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar on Wednesday.
A Rs 60,000-crore project, the Delhi-Amritsar road will go up to Katra (near Vaishno Devi) in Jammu region — 729 kilometres in all — and work will begin in January, he said, adding that it will pass through Jind, Barnala and Moga. “It will provide a smooth drive at a speed of up to 150 km per hour,” the Union minister declared at a press conference in Jalandhar after a rally in Partapura village nearby. Land remains to be acquired, he informed.
About the Jalandhar-Ajmer “trade route to connect with Mumbai”, at Rupnagar he said it will be a “four- or six-lane, direct road” via Moga and Bathinda, while in Jalandhar he added that, “If needed, we will convert it to an eight-lane highway.” It will bring down travelling time from Jalandhar to Ajmer from two days to four hours, he claimed. “We will make it happen! Earlier, traders had to take the Delhi route towards Mumbai. With this new road, that won’t be required.” He told reporters that deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had told him that “industry in Punjab is increasing, but people have to suffer a lot while sending material to Mumbai”.
At Rupnagar, he laid the foundation of the four-laning of Rupnagar-Phagwara and Kharar-Kurali sections, and four-to-six-laning of the Chandigarh-Kharar section of national highways. Another significant promise he made is a new bridge across the river Sutlej at Nangal at a cost of Rs 250 crore.
At Ludhiana, he laid the foundation the 76km, four-laning project from Ludhiana to Kharar worth Rs 1,967 crore, besides a 13km elevated road from Samrala Chowk to Ludhiana municipal limits and a 17km, four-laned Ladhowal bypass road.
At Jalandhar, he laid the foundation stone of six projects worth Rs 4,600 crore, including the four-laning of the Jalandhar-Barnala road, a 145km stretch.
He said road projects worth around Rs 30,000 crore are already on in Punjab and that “by next three years, road infrastructure and highway projects worth around Rs 1.5 lakh crore will be carried out in the state”. He also announced NH status to several stretches.
‘Bus stands like airports’
The Union minister also offered to construct a “logistics park” in the state “at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore in order to help the farming community of the state save crops”. Gadkari, who is also the minister for shipping, stressed the need to promote transportation through water and said the Centre would provide all help to Punjab for that. He also proposed to the state government a deal to beautify bus stands “like airports”. He said the Union ministry will build make the infrastructure and, “if run in profit, we will share 50% with the state”.
Sukhbir, in his speech at Rupnagar, declared that only the SAD-BJP government had developed Punjab and “taken it forward in the real sense”. He lambasted the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party. Among those present at different functions were Union minister and state BJP chief Vijay Sampla, MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, and state ministers Madan Mohan Mittal and Daljit Singh Cheema. (With inputs from Rupnagar and Ludhiana)