After the Samajwadi Party’s disastrous show in the Lok Sabha elections, the Akhilesh Yadav government quickly resumed its development works. Just a day after the results, on May 17, it cleared the technical bid for the ambitious 308-km long Lucknow-Agra Expressway and opened the “request for qualification” tender.
Following this, 24 companies submitted their applications for five different patches of the expressway. Among them included Larsen and Toubro Ltd, Jaypee Group (which developed Yamuna Expressway connecting Greater Noida to Agra), Hindustan Construction Company (which developed Bandra-Worli seat link as well as Mumbai-Pune Expressway in Maharashtra).
The consultant has been given 10 days to evaluate and finalise the bidders. The project, which was part of the SP’s 2012 manifesto for Uttar Pradesh, is delayed by two years with the bid process having been taken up afresh many times.
To speed up the process, the government on Saturday also began the process of land acquisition in about 220 villages on “mutual consent” with the farmers in six districts under the project area. These districts are Agra, Etawah, Kannauj, Firozabad, Unnao and Lucknow.
While the government had expressed its intent to acquire the land in these villages before the elections, the process had come to a stand-still after election notification.
“Our target is to complete the bidding in next two months and start the actual construction on site within next six months, which is why land acquisition has been started simultaneously,” said Navneet Sehgal, who recently took over as Chief Executive Officer, Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority.
A hurried government has called the bid evaluation committee meeting, headed by Industrial Development Commissioner Alok Ranjan, on May 28 to give the selected bidders the go-ahead.
Sources said there are some hurdles in villages near Agra, Etawah and Kannauj and the government, therefore, plans to start construction from the Lucknow-end and move towards Unnao.
In the past three days, almost all the 46 villages that fall under Unnao have agreed to part with their land on “mutual consent” with the government offering them prices equivalent to three to four times the circle rate.
Meanwhile, the government has called a state cabinet meeting Tuesday morning to decide on other pending projects.
The budget session of the Assembly is in June.