With 95% of work complete on the 341-km project, India's longest expressway, connecting Lucknow to Ghazipur, is expected to be flagged off in August
Notwithstanding the challenge posed by Covid-19, the 341-km Purvanchal Expressway project is fast nearing completion, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected to inaugurate it next month. Work on the Rs 22,500-crore six-lane access-controlled expressway from Chand Sarai in Lucknow to Haidariya in Ghazipur district, which is just 18 km from the UP-Bihar border, is almost 95% complete and the main carriageway is likely to be opened for trial runs in July-end.
While the project was to be completed in 36 months, with October 2021 being the deadline, the Uttar Pradesh government tried to expedite work and complete it by March 2021. Though Covid-19 and the resultant exodus of labour saw the pace of construction getting impacted slightly, the project has still managed to adhere to the original schedule.
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Reviewing the progress of construction work on the project recently, Uttar Pradesh Industrial Development Minister Satish Mahana said the Purvanchal Expressway would facilitate the development of the region by reducing the travel time between Lucknow and Ghazipur by half. It takes seven hours to cover the distance between Ghazipur and Lucknow at present, while it takes 14 hours to reach Delhi from Ghazipur.
The greenfield project, built on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis, will pass through nine of the most backward districts of eastern UP, including Barabanki, Amethi, Sultanpur, Ayodhya, Ambedkarnagar, Azamgarh, Mau and Ghazipur, providing these predominantly agricultural tracts seamless connectivity to not just the state capital Lucknow, but also the National Capital Region – through the 302-km Agra-Lucknow Expressway and the 165-km Agra-Greater Noida Yamuna Expressway.
The project was divided into eight packages, with the government awarding them to five companies —PNC Infratech Limited, Gayatri Projects, GR Infra, Oriental Structural Engineering and Apco Infratech in July 2018. While Gayatri Projects Limited, GR Infra Limited and PNC Infratech have constructed two packages each, Apco Infratech Private Limited and Oriental Structures Private Limited have built one package each.
“Once completed, the Purvanchal Expressway will transform the economy of Uttar Pradesh. It will act as a stimulant to economic development and boost the growth of the agriculture, industry, commerce, and tourism sectors. It will serve as an industrial corridor, allowing the products of manufacturing units, development centres and the agricultural economy of these areas to be transported seamlessly to the state capital and the national capital. It will also act as a catalyst for setting up of handloom units, food processing units, storage plants, mandis and milk-based industries,” says UP Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) CEO Awanish Awasthi.
Transportation of goods from the eastern parts of the state, with a predominantly agrarian economy, to larger markets is not only a time-taking and expensive affair at present but also results in large-scale wastage, especially of agri products like vegetables which have a shorter shelf life. Awasthi points out that along with the three other expressways being built by the state government – the 296-km Bundelkhand Expressway, 91-km Gorakhpur Link Expressway and 594-km Ganga Expressway – the Purvanchal Expressway would provide a much-needed boost to infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, and help it realise its goal of becoming a $1-trn economy by the year 2025.