Friday, August 10, 2012

Yamuna Expressway launched.

Now, you can drive from Delhi to the Taj Mahal in nearly 2 and a half hours.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today inaugurated the Yamuna Expressway - but via videoconference from Lucknow. With six lanes, the 165-km freeway links Greater Noida to Agra; it will reduce the travel time by 3-4 hours. The project was begun by former chief minister Mayawati, who was voted out in May this year. "The board outside will have our name... now how do we help that?" said Mr Yadav, a cheeky statement acknowledging that his government will get the credit for a major new project that it had very little to do with.

The Expressway, which has three toll plazas, opened at 4 pm.

But it has already run into controversy as farmers and workers of Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) blocked the Expressway at Bajna near Mathura. They are demanding that service lanes should be made along the Bajna village and a highway exit should also be given at the point into the village, to provide access to villages on the Expressway. The RLD even plans to sit on the dharna on the Expressway.

The land acquisition for the Expressway had turned violent last year when a farmer agitation broke out in Bhatta-Parsaul villages. Speaking on the issue today, Mr Yadav said, "The Samajwadi Party has mentioned in its manifesto that no land will be acquired without the consent of the farmers."

The state government has given approval to the toll rates at Rs. 2.10 per km for cars and light motor vehicles (LMVs) with three toll plazas at 38 km, 95 km and 150 km points. Two more toll plazas would be constructed later, they said. But as an inaugural move, the state government has waived toll charges till August 15.

The total cost of the project is Rs. 12,000 crore. The total length of the Expressway is 165.537 km from Greater Noida zero point till National Highway 2 at Agra. There are six interchanges, 70 underpasses, 75 cart track underpasses, 41 minor bridges and 182 culverts.

At five places the Expressway promoter Jaypee group will develop integrated townships on 500 hectare land each at Noida, Jaganpur, Mirzapur, Tappal (Aligarh) and Kuber(Agra), official sources said.