In a major push to the Rs 40k crore, 1047-km Ganga Expressway project, the most prestigious and possibly the most controversial project of the Uttar Pradesh government, its developer, the Jaypee group has formally committed itself to the project and has started pumping in funds to get the project off the ground.
The company, on Monday, deposited Rs 18 crore as the first installment for immediately kick-starting the process of land acquisition from the districts through which the expressway would be passing through. According to informed sources, the move assumes importance as up till now, everything about the project was confined to papers and agreements and with this, work has officially been kick-started.
At an extensive review meeting of the project monitoring committee, the state government also finalised the three link expressways that would be connecting the main Ganga Expressway. The three link rods would be the Lucknow-Bilhaur link road, the Mirzapur link and the Fatehgarh link roads. The review meeting, held under the chairmanship of industrial development commissioner V K Sharma, also decided an independent agency would be appointed to monitor and supervise the quality of the project work. For this, request for qualifications have been invited till January 2.
The 8-laned access controlled highway, which is being touted as the ‘Industrial Development Corridor’ of the state, will connect the eastern parts of the vast state to the NCR.
It may be mentioned that the project has been courting controversy ever since it was planned. Initially, opposition parties had tried to put a spanner in it by rallying together against the project and then the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had tried building up a case against it by stating that the Uttar Pradesh government had not followed the draft model concession agreement prepared by the Planning Commission and that the project would not only severely affect toll collections at the Golden Quadrilateral, but could also adversely affect the NHAI's plan to make the Grand Trunk road six-laned.
The latest controversy to have hit the project is that it may land in rough weather, with the newly-formed Ganga Basin Authority using the Environment Protection Act to nail it.