The Delhi-Meerut Expressway is expected to be complete in December this year, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said last week. The aim is to reduce travel time between the two cities to 60 minutes.
What is the Delhi Meerut Expressway Project?
A 96-km long regulated traffic expressway by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that will connect Delhi and Meerut, the expressway is divided into four sections, with its beginning point at Nizamuddin and culminating point at Partapur in Meerut.
The route covers crucial congested points, including the NH58 stretch between Anand Vihar and Meerut that passes through Modi Nagar and Murad Nagar. The project is set to reduce travel time between Delhi and Meerut to less than 60 minutes once all sections of the Expressway become fully functional.
For how long has the project been in the pipeline?
In 1999, the then MoS Urban Affairs and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya, proposed in Parliament four expressways to connect Delhi with neighboring cities, which included a 60-km stretch between Ghaziabad and Meerut.
In 2005, a notification was given in the NCR Transport Plan about a highway section between Ghaziabad and Meerut to be completed by 2021. The Delhi Ghaziabad Expressway became part of the Phase VI of the National Highway Development Project in 2006. Five years later, the tentative date for completion of the project was decided to be December 2015.
Due to delays in feasibility reports, the contract award was also pushed back and it was in 2014 that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the construction of roads under the project. The project’s foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Modi on December 31, 2015.
What is the significance of the project for West UP?
The project comprises four phases – Phase 1 (8.7 km) between Akshardham to UP Gate Phase 2 (19.2 km) between UP Gate and Dasna, Phase 3 (22 km) Dasna and Hapur and Phase 4 (46 km) between Dasna and Meerut.
According to officials, several people in NCR working in the national capital prefer to stay in Ghaziabad and adjoining Western UP areas. There is heavy concentration of population in areas like Masuri, Dasna and industrial areas like Modi Nagar that adds to the traffic.
The route witnesses heavy traffic and vehicular movement which indicated the need for a dedicated corridor to decongest Ring Roads of Delhi. The Eastern Peripheral Expressway was also built on the premise of reducing non-Delhi vehicular load on the bypass.
The project is set to streamline the movement with 14 lanes each in the first two phases and 8 lanes between Dasna and Hapur and a six-lane expressway in the fourth phase. In the 14-lane stretch, six lanes will comprise the central expressway till Meerut while the four lanes outside will be highway lanes.
The enhanced connectivity to Delhi is being perceived as a plus point in terms of investments for the state dovernment. “We are onboard with the Delhi Meerut Expressway Project since it will connect the state to Delhi. The government will be providing with every necessary help to the NHAI to ensure that the project is completed on time”, said Avanish Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) UP Government
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What have been the roadblocks so far?
The construction of the project was marred by protests by farmers in Ghaziabad and adjoining areas. According to UP government officials, land worth Rs 1200 crore had been acquired for the project.
Earlier this year, construction was held up at a 31-km stretch after farmers of Muradabad village staged protests for increased compensation for their land. The officials believe that compensation has been carried out adequately as per the Land Acquisition Act rules.
“The farmers have approached the court but the fact remains that due compensation has been made. The net compensation to farmers comes to about Rs 60 crore per km while the same is about Rs 6 crore in the project between Delhi and Mumbai. The protests will not come in the way of project completion,” said Mudit Garg, Project Manager, NHAI.
The project was also delayed after a probe was set up in 2017 against two former DMs of Ghaziabad for alleged irregularity in land acquisition for the project. The state government accepted a final report in the matter which recommended compensation worth Rs 486.98 crore for 71.1495 hectares following anomalies in acquisition.
The officials state that in 2020, virtually no progress was achieved due to Covid lockdown and lack of availability of labour. “If we had an extra work force, we could have been ahead of schedule as well. But the situation is becoming better and were confident of meeting the deadline”, said Mudit Garg.
When will the project become fully operational?
Phase 1 and Phase 3 are complete and were inaugurated by the PM Modi and Nitin Gadkari, Transport and Highway Minister, respectively. Approximately 15 per cent work is left in Phase 2 while another 25 per cent is due to be completed in Phase 4.
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