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Thursday, July 02, 2020

Congress, SAD fight for credit as Centre clears greenfield expressway demand

While Congress said the Centre had agreed to tweak the earlier proposal at the insistence of Chief Minister, SAD claimed the demand was met as per original plan of SAD-BJP government in state.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi/chandigarh | Updated: June 2, 2020 10:56:57 pm
rajya sabha elections, Congress rajya sabha candidates, Congress Rajya Sabha elections, Rajya Sabha elections, Rajya Sabha polls, indian express The announcement triggered a credit war between the state’s Congress government and opposition Akali Dal. (Source: File Photo)

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday announced development of a new greenfiled connectivity to Amritsar from Nakodar via Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, Khadoor Sahib as part of Delhi-Amritsar Expressway. The project, fulfilling a long-standing demand of the people of Punjab, will reduce travel time from Amritsar to Delhi International Airport to about four hours from the present nearly eight hours and would involve an investment of about Rs 25,000 crore.

“As part of Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, greenfield connectivity will be developed to Amritsar from Nakodar via Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, and Khadoor Sahib… The proposed expressway will connect the holy cities of five gurus of Sikhism,” Gadkari said after finalising the alignment in a review meeting attended by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hardeep Singh Puri, and others.

The announcement, however, triggered a credit war between the state’s Congress government and opposition Akali Dal.

While a Punjab government statement said the Centre had agreed to tweak the earlier proposal at the insistence of Chief Minister, SAD in a separate statement said the demand was met as per original plan of SAD-BJP government in state.

Punjab government claimed that the CM had earlier raised the issue with the Centre, after local citizens and their representatives expressed concern over the project’s failure to connect the religious and historical towns of Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, Tarn Taran. It added that to speed up the process of land acquisition for the new Greenfield alignment, the Chief Minister has agreed to an early meeting between NHAI and state government authorities.

In a separate statement, Harsimrat Kaur Badal thanked Gadkari for acceding to her request to amend the alignment of the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressway to “create a new direct link between Amritsar and Delhi besides creating a Sikh circuit connecting five major Sikh shrines”. She said that the changes were “in tune with the original alignment proposed during SAD-BJP tenure”.

As both parties claimed credit for the changes, a statement by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said the issue of alignment of the expressway to Amritsar was taken up by Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Civil Aviation and Housing & Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Government of Punjab, BJP MP Shwait Malik, Sikh organisations and other public representatives.

After Tuesday’s video-conference, Gadkari told Amarinder that after detailed deliberations with the state government officials and examination of all aspects of the proposal, the NHAI had approved the alignment of Phase-I of Delhi–Amritsar–Katra Expressway with Delhi-Gurdaspur section (entering the State near Khanauri and passing near the towns of Khanauri, Patran, Bhawanigarh, Ludhiana, Nakodar, Jalandhar Kartarpur, Qadian & Gurdaspur) as a Greenfield project, along with development of existing NH-3 from Kartarpur (junction of proposed Expressway with Jalandhar-Amritsar road NH-3) to Amritsar bypass as a 6-lane Access Controlled Expressway, as a Brownfield project.

Giving details, a state government spokesperson said the greenfield alignment will provide direct Expressway connectivity to Amritsar, starting from village Kangsabu on Jalandhar-Nakodar National Highway connecting Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, Khadoor Sahib, Tarn Taran & Amritsar and merging with Amritsar-Dera Baba Nanak road near Rajasasi Airport.

He added that this alignment, covering about 100 km, will connect the five religious towns established by five Sikh Gurus –Sultanpur Lodhi (Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji), Goindwal Sahib (Sri Guru Amardas Ji), Khadoor Sahib (Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji), Tarn Taran (Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji) and Amritsar (Sri Guru Ramdas Ji).

The Expressway project is being executed by NHAI with assistance of Feedback Infra. The original alignment approved by the state governments of Punjab and Haryana was not favoured as it entailed longer route, making the toll road less viable.

(with PTI inputs)

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