How UP’s Longest Expressway, To Be Built Along The Ganga, Is Taking Shape

  • Once the Ganga Expressway is complete, the 12 eastern districts of Uttar Pradesh, among the least developed ones in the country, will have expressway connectivity to the NCR.

With the 165-km Yamuna Expressway and the 302-km Lucknow-Agra Expressway, Uttar Pradesh has the longest operational network of expressways in the country. Work on two more expressways, the 340-km Purvanchal Expressway and the 296-km Bundelkhand Expressway is already in full swing.

Now, the state appears to have moved a step closer to starting work on a third expressway, the Ganga Expressway.

As the name suggests, the Ganga Expressway will run along the Ganga river that bisects the state into two. This would prompt us to believe that there are no questions about the alignment of the expressway.

But that isn’t the case. In fact, the project was in limbo for at least a decade precisely due to various issues related to the expressway’s alignment.

First proposed by the Mayawati government in 2007, the project’s environment clearance was canceled in 2009 by the Allahabad High Court. It was argued that the alignment proposed was too close to the Ganga river’s channel. Constructing close to the river channel would damage the flood plains of the river.

In January 2019, the Yogi Adityanath government revived the project. To make compliance with environmental laws easier, the government decided to shift the alignment of the expressway 10 kilometers away from the river channel. The final alignment, however, was not readied back then.

In a meeting in May, just days after the Lok Sabha election results, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered that the survey work for the expressway be started and completed within the next three months.

And now, three months later, reports say that the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) has finalised two alignments, one of which will be selected for the Ganga Expressway.

A decision on the final alignment is expected soon.

The project will cost Rs 36,000 crore and requirs the acquisition of around 6,556 hectares of land. While Rs 13,862 crore will be spent on acquiring land for the expressway, Rs 22,090 crore will be spent on construction. It will be funded by a combination of debt (70 per cent) and equity (30 per cent).

Bhopal-based L N Malviya Infra Projects has been appointed by UPEIDA as the consultant for the project. The construction of the expressway will be undertaken in two phases. When construction begins, the Ganga Expressway will become the state’s fifth expressway.

In the first phase, a 600 km corridor will link Meerut with Prayagraj, passing through Jyotiba Phule Nagar, Sambhal, Badaun, Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Unnao, Rae Bareli and Pratapgarh. The first phase of the four-lane expressway, which can be expanded to six lanes in the future, has to be completed by 2024.

In the second phase, two extensions will be built, one on the eastern end and the other on the western end. A 110 km extension will link the western end of the expressway in Meerut to the state’s boundary with Uttarakhand, near Haridwar.

Its eastern end in Prayagraj will be linked to Balia near the border with Bihar, through a 300-km-long extension passing through Varanasi and Ghazipur. Meerut is also being linked to the National Capital Region (NCR) through a 96 km expressway; this will also be India’s widest expressway with 14 lanes.

The total length of the expressway will be around 1020 km.

Meetur is also being linked to the National Capital Region (NCR) through a 96 km expressway—India’s widest with 14 lanes. Once both these expressways are complete, Uttar Pradesh’s 12 eastern districts, among the least developed ones in the country, will have expressway connectivity to the NCR.

The under-construction Purvanchal Expressway will also link the eastern districts with NCR through the Lucknow-Agra Expressway and the Yamuna Expressway.

Around 15 per cent of the work on the Purvanchal Expressway has been completed. At least 97 per cent of the land needed for it has also been acquired. The main carriageway is to be made operational by August 2020.

Over 90 per cent of the land needed for the Bundelkhand Expressway has also been acquired and construction may begin in October.