New Delhi: Concerned that a mega expressway proposed by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati may end up as a stand-alone stretch without connectivity to existing highways, the Planning Commission has called a meeting of top state officials later this month.
A tender for the project, expected to cost Rs40,000 crore, is expected to be awarded early next week.
Crossroads: A view of a highway in Uttar Pradesh. A tender for UP’s proposed mega expressway is expected to be awarded early next week. (Photo: Rajeev Dabral/Mint)
According to commission member Anwar-ul-Hoda, the state would be asked to consider linking the expressway to existing highways.
“The thinking in the commission is that such expressways should be inter-linked with national highways and other expressways to form a national grid, so that there is seamless connectivity. If expressways are built in bits and pieces (by various state governments) then the country will not be benefited,” said Hoda.
The Ganga Expressway project was announced by Mayawati in September. It is to start at Greater Noida, outside New Delhi, and terminate at Ballia, some 1,000km away. The proposed expressway will touch Fatehgarh, Rai Bareli and Bhadoi.
There are also revenue implications for the government in wanting the expressway to be linked to existing or other planned roads.
Mint had reported earlier in September that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) could potentially lose toll revenues on road investments worth Rs3,378 crore spent under the Golden Quadrilateral project in Uttar Pradesh if the eight-lane expressway is completed and diverts traffic that would have otherwise used NHAI roads.
NHAI has also written to the minstry of shipping and road transport about the potential tolls revenue loss, an official with the highway regulator said.
Uttar Pradesh cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh was unavailable for comment on the issue despite several calls being made to his office.
Infrastructure expert at Centre for Policy Research Partha Mukhopadhyay, however, said that connectivity could be addressed after the expressway was constructed. “Even as a stand-alone project, there is significant implications (in the expressway project) for developing the area,” said Mukhopadhyay, pointing out that it would pass through some of the most backward districts in the state.
Even private companies that might hold concessions to the expressway would be interested in developing linkages with national highways as it would lead to more traffic passing through the expressway, Mukhopadhyay said.