New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh, India’s most-populous state, is seeking initial bids for building a $6.4 billion (Rs25,152) crore expressway to connect the eastern and western boundaries of the province.

Growth path: India is building 5,846km of highways connecting the four metros of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

The northern state sought requests for qualifications from domestic and overseas developers, and those selected will be eligible to participate in the next stage of bidding, the state government said in an advertisement published on Thursday in the Business Standard newspaper.

The central government and states are taking steps to build roads, utilities and other infrastructure to keep pace with demand after Asia’s third largest economy expanded an average 8.6% in the past four years. Delays in acquiring land for road projects have prevented their completion as planned.

“There have to be some guidelines where the government and the companies can resolve delays that can come up, such as when people don’t want to part with land," said R. Venkatesan, head of the industry division and a senior fellow at the National Council of Applied Economic Research, a New Delhi-based research organization. It is often a small part of “the stretch that can delay the whole project", he said.

The Uttar Pradesh project is independent of the national road-building programme. India is building 5,846km of highways connecting New Delhi, the financial hub Mumbai, Kolkata in the east and Chennai in the south. About 96% of this road network had been completed as of 30 September, according to the National Highways Authority of India’s website. The project, known as the Golden Quadrilateral, was unveiled in 1998 by the previous National Democratic Alliance government.

The 950km expressway in Uttar Pradesh will run along the bank of the Ganga. “The expressway to be built upon embankments along the river shall also provide flood protection to the area and high- speed direct connectivity from western to eastern boundaries," the state government said. It “will be instrumental in developing the districts falling on the expressway."

Uttar Pradesh will also award development rights to the successful bidder for some land parcels along the expressway, the government said. Requests for qualifications must be submitted by 22 November.

The eight-lane expressway will connect Greater Noida, near New Delhi, on the west, with Ballia, in the eastern part of the state.

This will be the second expressway to be built in the state. Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, India’s biggest builder of dams and a cement maker, is constructing a 160km, six-lane expressway connecting Greater Noida with Agra.

The expressway will run along the eastern bank of the river Yamuna and includes development of 2,500ha (6,175 acres) of land along the stretch, according to the website of Jaiprakash Associates. The expressway is expected to be completed by 2010, chairman Manoj Gaur said in an interview on 18 October.

Highways, on which almost 80% of the goods transported in India move, account for about 2% of the country’s roads. The massive road-building and upgradation project could bring about some change. Apart from the Golden Quadrilateral, the country is also building two highways connecting the northern tip of with the south and the western end of the country with the east, spanning a total of 7,300km.