Despite a delay of 2 months due to the lockdown, UP govt is pushing to complete the 341-km expressway, to be the longest in India, by year-end
For the Rs 22,500-crore Purvanchal Expressway, which will be the country’s longest expressway once ready, it’s a race against time and Covid-19. Despite a delay of almost two months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, hectic efforts are underway to complete the project by the end of the year, months ahead of the official deadline of April 2021.
The 341-km six-lane (expandable to eight lanes) access-controlled expressway from Chand Sarai in Lucknow district to Haidaria in Ghazipur district, being built on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis, will not only provide the nine predominantly agricultural districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh seamless connectivity to state capital Lucknow, but also link them to National Capital Delhi via the 302-km Agra-Lucknow Expressway and the 165-km Agra-Greater Noida Yamuna Expressway.
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“As against 10,000 workers before the lockdown, we currently have 5,500 workers at the site. But we have told the companies working on the 8 packages to operate at full throttle and expedite the work. We are also trying to get more labourers back. We hope that in about a week’s time, we will have the full workforce with us,” says Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) Chief Executive Officer Avanish Awasthi, adding that if the monsoon is weak this year, as may happen, the project can be completed by the year end.
“More than 80% of the earthwork has been done and around 48% of the physical work on the project has been completed. The remaining 52% of work will be completed within the targetted timeline by increasing the size of the workforce,” says Durgesh Upadhyay, media advisor in UPEIDA.
District magistrates of the nine districts through which the project passes have been asked to get labourers medically examined before they start working. “We are ensuring that all precautions are taken and social distancing norms maintained,” says Awasthi.
Work on the flagship project of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath – though it was launched by his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav – started with the government awarding the eight packages it is comprised of to five companies — PNC Infratech Limited, Gayatri Projects, GR Infra, Oriental Structural Engineering and Apco Infra – in July 2018.
The districts through which the expressway will pass – Barabanki, Amethi, Ayodhya, Sultanpur, Ambedkarnagar, Azamgarh, Mau and Ghazipur – have been among the most backward districts of the state. The expressway is expected to transform the under-developed region and usher in economic prosperity. “It will not only cause an upturn in the fortunes of the region but also bring about a sea change in the lives of the people. It will boost agriculture as well as industrial and commercial activities, apart from enhancing the prospects for tourism in the state,” says Awasthi, adding that the expressway will act as an industrial corridor for the different manufacturing units, development nodes and agricultural centres of the region.
Transport of goods from the Purvanchal region to bigger markets has thus far been a time-taking and expensive affair. In fact, a large proportion of the agri products of the region, especially vegetables, which have a smaller shelf life, are wasted in the process of getting transported. The expressway would also attract investment in the handloom, food processing, warehousing as well as dairy sectors, boosting the region and Uttar Pradesh’s growth.