November 25, 2016 4:45:32 am
As parties brace for the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is racing against time to inaugurate a slew of projects, many far from completion, to beat the model code of conduct which will kick in the moment polls are announced.
If the Lucknow-Agra expressway, the latest to be inaugurated, still awaits completion of side barricading and lighting work, the Gomti riverfront, the new jewel of Lucknow, has to make do for now without a water bus. Lok Bhawan, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, has been declared operational though two of its three blocks are still being built.
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# The 302-km Lucknow-Agra Expressway, constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 15,000 crore, was inaugurated by the Chief Minister along with SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on November 21. While Akhilesh announced it would be open to the public by December-end, a ground check showed otherwise. Four of eight lanes of a 515-metre Yamuna bridge in Agra district are still being built.
Of the four large railway overbridges, only two are ready — Arole in Kanpur and Bangarmau in Unnao. The overbridges at Bahadaun and on the Etawah-Mainpuri railway line are still work in progress. The government claims to have completed the 750-metre Ganga bridge in Unnao but work on the filling of joints is still underway.
The high speed access-controlled expressway is not what it should be — side barricading, lighting, central line marking work are still on. And the reason why a stray dog entered the expressway, forcing an IAF fighter to abort a landing — it landed on the day of the inauguration.
The government says it has adopted the Advanced Traffic Management System on the expressway but the tender process for implementation of the system is still in the works. On November 22, the government issued a clarification on queries from bidders for implementation of the system.
“We are working day and night to make it open to public by December-end but some structures like the railway overbridges are stuck for want of NOCs, something which is not in our hands,” a senior officer of the Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority said.
# The Gomti River Front Development project in Lucknow was inaugurated by the Chief Minister on November 16. Construction of the Rs 1500-crore project started in 2014. The riverfront was to have an imported musical fountain near the lake — it has just arrived. There is no sign of the promised water bus facility. A senior officer said work will not be completed before January.
# On October 11, Akhilesh, along with Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, inaugurated Lucknow’s Jai Prakash Narayan International Centre, which is supposed to have a museum, guest house, an aquatic block with international-level swimming and diving pools, a convention centre and sports complex. So far, only the museum block has been completed. Other blocks will be readied between December and March 2017.
# On October 3, the Chief Minister inaugurated the Rs 602-crore Lok Bhawan — the CM Secretariat — which is to accommodate 1,330 officers, and will have offices of the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, Appointment Secretary and others. Lok Bhawan has been planned in three blocks — A, B and C. Only B block is currently operational. It has the office of the Chief Minister, an auditorium and a cabinet room. The Chief Minister has started holding his cabinet meetings there. The A block, which will have two floors, and the C block with seven floors and a multi-storeyed parking lot are still under construction. Work may go beyond March 2017.
# Among the upcoming inaugurations is the Lucknow Metro project. The Chief Minister is expected to launch it on December 1. The entire Metro team is racing against time to make the first phase of the project operational.
# At the cancer hospital under construction in Chak Ganjaria City, the government hopes to get at least the OPD inaugurated by the Chief Minister before the election notification.
Asked about the status of these projects, Alok Ranjan, Chief Adviser to the Chief Minister, said: “These are large infrastructure projects. We shall be able to make most of them operational by December-end.” He said work in some phases might continue until March 2017.
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