It's UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's dream project, but the Rs 9,000-crore, 270-km access-controlled six-lane Agra-Lucknow greenfield expressway has found no takers.
Belying expectations, none of the five companies — Essel Infrastructure, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, Jaypee Group, IL&FS and Indus Concessions India — which had submitted technical bids, came forward on Tuesday, the scheduled date for financial bids.
Cancelling the process, Infrastructure and Industrial Development Commissioner (IIDC) Alok Ranjan said that the matter will now be referred to the state government for further direction.
The expressway was being touted as an engine to drive socio-economic change in the region through which it would have traversed. “Improved road infrastructure facilities are imperative to enable industrial development leading to inclusive socio-economic progress in the state.
And the Agra-Lucknow expressway would have propelled development all along its route apart from saving travel time and cost. Once completed, the expressway would have cut short the travelling time between Lucknow and Agra from 6 hours to 3.30 hours and would have further acted as a link to Delhi via the Yamuna expressway,” said an official requesting anonymity.
This was supposed to be a toll-based project. The government, sources said, will now examine why this model could not find success and whether other options or models could be followed.
Interestingly, while these companies had shown interest in the expressway when it was launched immediately after the Akhilesh government came to power, gradually, they seemed to have lost interest and began seeing it as a loss-making venture.
In fact, some of the developers even expressed their reluctance, doubting the feasibility of the project and had requested the state to rework the project around the 'land parcel' model as was adopted for the Yamuna Expressway. Under that model, the developer was given land along the project as “sweetener” to compensate the cost of large-scale investment.
However, since the Samajwadi Party had opposed the model during the 2012 assembly election calling it 'anti-farmer', it was difficult for it to accept this suggestion. All this while, the government kept pushing back the deadline for submitting the bids citing “procedural requirement”. But with today's development, it had no choice but to close this chapter finally.