Rs 66,000-crore highway bonanza for poll-bound Punjab

Source: Business Standard, Sept 16, 2016

New Delhi: With state elections round the corner, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Thursday announced a string expressway projects worthabout Rs 66,000 crore in Punjab.

The travel time from New Delhi to Amritsar is likely to get reduced by about 2.5 hours as an expressway has been planned between these two cities, stretching all the way to Katra in Jammu and Kashmir. The aim is to cater to the pilgrims visiting the holy city in Punjab and Vaishno Devi shrine in J&K.

The Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressway would be executed on an alignment cutting across Jind in Haryana and connecting Amritsar via Barnala in Punjab. The project that would come up at a cost of about Rs 60,000 crore would reduce the distance between Delhi and Katra by over 110 km. Distance from Delhi to Katra via national highway 1 is about 729 km.

The minister said that the minimum speed limit on that expressway will be increased to 150 km per hour from the present 80 km per hour. A highway, connecting Jalandhar city to Ajmer, has been planned with the idea of connecting Punjab with Rajasthan by passing Delhi. The aim is to decongest the national capital and bring down the travel times substantially.

The proposed highway would come up at a cost of Rs 6,000 crore. The distance between the two cities is 580 km, and this highway would cater to the traffic from Punjab to Haryana, Rajasthan and further Maharashtra through this highway. “This move would be beneficial for the industry in Punjab as it would reduce the distance between Punjab and Mumbai,” Gadkari said. He added that the work on these projects would begin in the next financial year and would take about 2-3 years for completion.

From Punjab to Uttar Pradesh (UP), another poll-bound state, the ministry announced road projects worth about Rs 2 lakh crore. Gadkari, who is visiting UP tomorrow, would also announce building an expressway, connecting Kanpur and Lucknow. The expressway that would come up at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore would reduce the current travel time between the two cities to 35 minutes from an hour.

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