Amid the second wave of Covid-19 infections, Uttar Pradesh has brought back curfews and lockdowns to flatten the curve. But the Yogi Adityanath government, looking to finish critical infrastructure projects on time, has not stopped work on the state’s expressway projects.
While the pandemic has had some effect on the construction of Purvanchal, Bundelkhand and Gorakhpur Link expressways and the land acquisition for the Ganga Expressway, work has continued without major disruption, the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), the agency responsible for the planning and construction of e-ways in the state, has said.
“Work on expressway projects in the state has continued through the pandemic. The pandemic has certainly had some effect on the work,” Awanish Awasthi, the Chief Executive Officer of UPEIDA, told Swarajya in Lucknow.
However, UPEIDA is confident that minor disruptions caused by the strong second wave will dissipate over the next few days.
“We will bounce back in the next 10 days, say by 30 May,” Awasthi, who also serves as Additional Chief Secretary (Home Department), said.
“All our offices and camps have reopened. We are ensuring regular fumigation and following the guidelines. We have been holding meetings through video conferencing for the last three days,” he noted, adding, “around 30 to 40 per cent of the labor force, which had left, has started returning to work.”
Awasthi said the pandemic will not have a major effect on the overall timelines of the projects that the UPEIDA is currently working on.
“The pandemic might have a slight effect on our timelines but not very much, maybe about 15 days to a month,” the UPEIDA CEO said.
The Adityanath government is currently working on four expressways. Of these, three — the 340-km-long Purvanchal Expressway, the 296-km-long Bundelkhand Expressway and the 91-km-long Gorakhpur Link Expressway — are already under construction. For the fourth and the state’s longest, the 594-km-long Ganga Expressway, the state government is currently acquiring land.
The Purvanchal Expressway connects districts in the eastern part of the state, closer to the boundary with Bihar, to Lucknow, which is linked to the National Capital Region (NCR) through the Lucknow-Agra and Yamuna Expressways.
The Bundelkhand Expressway connects the Bundelkhand region with the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, making access to the NCR easier. The expressway is critical for the success of the defence corridor, Chief Minister Adityanath’s flagship project to attract investment in this region, as some of its proposed nodes, like Jhansi and Chitrakoot, lie in the Bundelkhand region.
The Gorakhpur Link Expressway, as its name suggests, will connect Gorakhpur with the Purvanchal Expressway. Originating in Gorakhpur, the expressway will pass through two districts — Kabir Nagar and Ambedkar Nagar, and join the Purvanchal e-way in Azamgarh. Gorakhpur is the seat of the Gorakhnath Peeth which Yogi Adityanath continues to head as mahant. He has represented Gorakhpur in Parliament five times in a row between 1998 and 2017, resigning only after taking oath as Chief Minister.
Over 90 per cent work on the six-lane Purvanchal Expressway has been completed until 18 May, Awasthi said, adding that the main carriageway of the expressway will be opened for traffic in June this year.
Physical progress on Bundelkhand Expressway and Gorakhpur Link Expressway stands at 58 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.
Acquisition of land for the construction of the Ganga Expressway has continued through the pandemic, and around 41 per cent of land required for the project has already been acquired.
“Today we acquired 25 hectare. We will be back to our normal level of purchase everyday, which is about 50 to 60 hectares. We have spent Rs 2,900 crore already on land purchase,” Awasthi told Swarajya on Tuesday (18 May).
“The original timeline was to start work by July-August, but obviously international companies are asking for more time because of the Covid-19 pandemic as they want to see the site physically, which is not currently possible,” he said, adding that the bids are likely to be in place by July or August.
The expressway, stretching around 594 km in the first phase, will pass through the districts of Meerut, Hapur, Bulandshahar, Amroha, Sambhal, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, Hardoi, Unnao, Rai Bareli, Pratapgarh and Prayagraj.
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