Mumbai: Twenty firms have submitted initial bids for building India’s longest and biggest expressway project yet—a Rs40,000 crore, eight-laned, access controlled expressway linking Ballia in eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) with Greater Noida—located on the border of the Capital, New Delhi.
The 1047 km-long road project dubbed Ganga Expressway will, when operational, cut travel time between the backward eastern part of Uttar Pradesh and the more prosperous western part of the state, by 16 hours from the current 24 hours.
For a traveller, it would take just about eight hours to zip from the holy city of Varanasi to New Delhi when the project is completed.
The planned expressway will dwarf the 95km-long, six-laned, access controlled expressway connecting India’s financial capital Mumbai with Pune and the under construction and controversy-ridden 111km-long expressway linking Bangalore with the garden city of Mysore.
The firms that have applied for pre-qualification include Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Reliance Energy Ltd, DLF Ltd, IL&FS Ltd, Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd with Australia’s biggest investment bank Macquarie, GMR Group, the Omaxe Ltd-GVK Group-Nagarjuna Construction Co. Ltd consortium, the Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd-Apollo Group-D S Constructions Ltd consortium, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, Canadian firm SNC Lavalin with Progressive Constructions Ltd, Unitech Ltd, Punj Lloyd Ltd, Oman’s Gulfar Engineering & Contracting Llc., Zoom Developers Pvt. Ltd, Australia’s Leighton Group with Oriental Construction Co. Ltd, and PLUS Expressways Berhad, a subsidiary of Malaysia’s UEM Group, according to an official with the UP government overseeing the bidding process who did not wish to be named.
UP has taken inspiration for building the Ganga Expressway from legendary Afghan leader Sher Shah Suri, who built the Grand Trunk Road connecting Delhi with Kabul in the 16th century after temporarily displacing Humayun from the Mughal throne.
Suri’s road ran alongside the right bank of the Ganga; the new expressway will be built on the left bank of the river.
The eight-laned expressway will be constructed on an embankment to be built by the state’s irrigation department for controlling floods on the left bank of the Ganga.
The proposed expressway will start at Ballia-Gazipur and pass through Varanasi, Mirzapur, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Allahabad, Pratapgarh, Rae Bareli, Unnao, Hardoi, Farrukhabad, Fatehgarh, Shahjahanpur, Badaun, Bulandshahr, Gautam Buddhanagar and terminate at Greater Noida.
The expressway project will make available around 5,000 acres of land for real estate development including residential and industrial units. This will make the project economically viable for the developers.
The work on the expressway project will begin next year.