Arun Kumar Sinha
The newly inaugurated Purvanchal Expressway is the symbol of the much acclaimed economic and infrastructure “renaissance” that is taking place in Uttar Pradesh. Apart from allowing the commuters to drive drown from Delhi to UP-Bihar border in a little over 10-hours, it will boost industrial prospects in the area, which have been largely neglected by the previous governments.
Making the case that infrastructure itself can be inclusive is a straightforward one. Many of the worst decisions in the infrastructure planning of Uttar Pradesh were made decades ago to intentionally marginalise and separate communities. But Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s primary policy is inclusiveness and welfare of 24 crore citizens of the state.
The expressway will improve connectivity and bring development to the people (Photo: @upeidaofficial)
As a result, Uttar Pradesh, earlier known for poor infrastructure is now building expressways at a frenetic pace, clocking a 1,321 of top-quality road network—the longest in India. The state’s road network and its wider transport infrastructure are crucial to bolster connectivity. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has tasked Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) to build 4 expressways — 341-km Purvanchal, 296-km Bundelkhand, 91-km Gorakhpur Link and 594-km Ganga. To build expressways is not only an economic decision, but also a moral one – a chance to enable last mile connectivity and boost socio-economic development.
And to achieve the result, Yogi empowered UPEIDA to take quick decisions, be it land acquisition, getting forest and environment clearance, shifting utilities, etc. Even the hallmark of delays i.e., environment clearances were given in record time for both the Purvanchal and Bundelkhand expressways. Despite the pandemic, the government has already signalled its determination to press ahead with the work on the highways.
The scale of the investment, even in the wake of the giant Covid relief bill, was striking. The government has doubled down on infrastructure and has allocated 8.2 per cent of its total expenditure for roads and bridges, which is almost double the average allocation by other states at 4.3 per cent (2020-21 budget estimate or BE), as per an analysis by PRS Legislative Research.
While these roads will unify and connect millions of the state’s citizens, the project will also foster the economy by boosting the social and economic development of the covered areas as well as the income of agriculture, commerce, tourism and industries.
For example, the Purvanchal expressway will open up the routes from the Chandsarai village, near Lucknow till Hyderia village, district Ghazipur, situated on NH-19, 18 km before of UP-Bihar border.
The Poorvanchal Expressway will be inaugurated for the people today (Photo: @upeidaofficial)
Even the most obscure and secluded villages are now bracing for a revolution of their own, as authorities define grand plans to transform them and the surrounding region. The expressways have already benefitted the villagers in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand, where land prices have more than doubled. The Expressways will be helpful as an industrial corridor to connect the various production units, development centres and agricultural production areas located in the areas covered by the expressway with the state capital and national capital.
Opportunities will also be available for the establishment of Industrial Training Institute, Educational and Training Institute, Medical Institute etc. near the expressway. UPEIDA is also working on creating industrial hubs around the area and work is also underway on the defence corridor project, where land is being allotted to defence companies to set up their manufacturing unit.
Expressway will act as a catalyst for setting up of Handloom Industry, Food Processing Units, Storage Plant, Mandi and Milk based industries. The development of tourism in the project covered areas will be encouraged and all-round and all-round development of these regions of the neglected state will also be possible.
UPEIDA is fully catering to the 5Es of safe road operations such as road engineering, vehicular engineering, education, enforcement and emergency care. Bundelkhand Expressway (296-km long highway ) is billed to be the safest four-lane expressway in the country as it is based on Forgiving Roads (FR), a concept aimed at avoiding or minimising the harm and consequences of traffic accidents. FR envisages a road design that seeks to smoothly redirect motorists who go off the highways because of poor knowledge of the exits.
The expressway will have latest crash barriers, design of at-grade and grade separated junctions, appropriate traffic signage, road markings. Several protections would be given for vehicular engineering. Old heavy vehicles would be retrofitted, and reflective tapes would be put on heavy vehicles, tractor-trollies.
The policemen would be trained in accident data collection, first aid trauma care and Good Samaritan law, Automated Traffic Management System (ATMS) for safe operation of traffic and monitoring incident management are also being introduced. In education, effort would be to inculcate good road behaviour through awareness campaigns in schools and introduce road safety curriculum in the existing textbooks.
Pollution has increasingly become a hazardous risk and by controlling the entry of expressways, significant savings in fuel consumption and pollution control will also be possible.
Roads, bridges and walls are agents of change, with a direct impact on the lives of citizens of Uttar Pradesh. Ubiquitous and heavily used, expressways will be undeniably a vital part of the Uttar Pradesh experience. It’s big, yes. It’s bold, yes. But Uttar Pradesh will get it done.
(Arun Kumar Sinha is a retired PWD engineer. The views expressed are personal)
Also read: Uttar Pradesh On the Cusp of Economic Transformation