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The Double Engine of Modi and Yogi governments have turned Uttar Pradesh into Expressway Pradesh: Here is how

The state which was once ill known for its bad public services including basic infrastructures is changing very rapidly under the workaholic leadership of Yogi Adityanath

Uttar Pradesh had essentially contributed to the states which would once be included in the word BIMARU which literally means sick. But in Indian polity, the word was used to imply how states of the Hindi heartland are underdeveloped and hence being an obstacle in national growth. This acronym was coined by Ashish Bose in the eighties. The word was popularly used to abbreviate Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. It must be noted that in the eighties and nineties when the word was most popular, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand were carved out of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar respectively.

So this all put together is home to almost half of the Indian population which would then usually seek growth opportunities out of the states, especially in cities like Delhi or Mumbai. UP, even after the formation of Uttarakhand, has been the largest contributor to this so-called mess. But after Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014 and especially after Yogi joined him as the state CM in 2017, the situation has drastically changed. Uttar Pradesh is scripting an altogether different story of development and the road to glory the state is aspiring to reach is negotiated along the lengths and breadths of the iconic network of the expressways the Modi-Yogi duo is building in Uttar Pradesh, not to forget the special attention put in by Nitin Gadkari, the union minister for Road Transport and Highways.

Yogi’s UP : Road to Development

The state which was once ill known for its bad public services including basic infrastructures is changing very rapidly under the workaholic leadership of Yogi Adityanath. Of all the things Yogi had taken on priority since assuming the charge of the CM post, roadways top the chart. The state has now become the one to have the longest of the expressways and is now called Expressway Pradesh.

When Yogi Adityanath assumed the CM office, he had received in legacy from the former CM Akhilesh Yadav, an incomplete stretch of a highway between Agra and Lucknow which would connect the state capital to the Agra Delhi highway which is also known as the Yamuna Expressway, thereby connecting Lucknow to the National Capital Region via a rapid transport amenity. Yogi not only completed the remaining works of the 302KM long Agra Lucknow expressway but with the help of the BJP government in the center, he went on to add another 641KM of expressways in the state.

The network of the highways is spread such that no corner of the state remains remote for either the state capital or the national capital. The biggest state of the country now has the longest of the expressways. The highway web includes Yamuna Expressway, Agra Lucknow Expressway, Purvanchal Expressway, Bundelkhand Expressway, Gorakhpur Link Expressway, and coming soon is the grand Ganga Expressway. The tally comes to be around 1800KM and no other state has this much length of the expressways. Besides Yogi Adityanath government in the state is stepping ahead rapidly to complete its 15000KM rural road network project. With all the tehsil places already connected to a two-lane road, and rich water resources in the state, Uttar Pradesh attracting most of the FDIs has become more than obvious.

The Yamuna Expressway

In 2001, there was a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. Current defence minister Rajnath Singh was the chief minister of the state in that government. This government led by Rajnath Singh came up with the idea of reducing travel time between Agra and Delhi. But the project could not start because of the frequent changes of the Uttar Pradesh state government till 2003. The project was reinitiated in 2007 when Mayawati became the chief minister of the state. It was scheduled to complete in 2010 but it took 2 years more than the scheduled time. It was completed in May 2012 and the then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav inaugurated it in August 2012. It is very important to revisit this whole timeline because what followed in the Yogi Adityanath government is very different than this. Yogi Adityanath government is paying keen attention to completing the projects within stipulated time periods. The budgets of the projects are also revised that too on the lower side saving the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. The project cost for Yamuna Expressway was Rs. 13000 Crores.

The Agra Lucknow Expressway

The 302KM long Agra Lucknow Expressway was built in Akhilesh Yadav’s tenure as the CM of the state. The foundation stone was laid in November 2014 while the expressway was opened for heavy vehicles in December 2016. Akhilesh Yadav had projected this highway as one of the major works his government had accomplished. But later when Yogi Adityanath became the chief minister he had pointed out the incomplete patches of the work. It was as late as January 2018 that the toll collection started on this road. The total cost of this project was Rs. 11526 Crore excluding the land costs. This expressway cut down the travel time between two cities from five and half hours to three hours. Due to this expressway, anyone in the state capital Lucknow could now reach Delhi within six hours, as from Agra, the Yamuna Expressway was already functional.

Barely after the four months of its inauguration, this work came under Yogi Adityanath’s scanner as there were some alleged irregularities in the land deals executed for this project in Akhilesh Yadav’s tenure. Farmlands were allegedly passed as lands for residential areas in order to get higher rates of compensation. Besides, accidents on this highway had tarnished the hype Akhilesh Yadav created about this road. Crash barriers were erected on one side of the road. After Yogi Adityanath became the CM when works for other new highways started, lacunae in this highway were also taken care of and crash barriers were added in the road divider also.

The Purvanchal Expressway

One of the major game-changers in both the politics and economy of Uttar Pradesh is the Purvanchal Expressway which is conceived, built, completed, opened to the public, and started to operate in Yogi Adityanath’s tenure. The longest expressway in the country is 340KM long and the total project cost is Rs. 22494 Crore. The foundation stone was laid down by PM Narendra Modi in July 2018. The construction work started in October 2018. The Purvanchal Expressway was opened for the public on 16th November 2021 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated it.

This speed and scale of work have connected eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh straight to the National capital. The expressway stretches from Lucknow to Ghazipur. Its farthest end is in Hyderiya of Ghazipur district which is not too far from the Bihar border. The route of this expressway passes through Barabanki, Amethi, Sultanpur, Ayodhya, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Mau, and Ghazipur. It must be noted that Rahul Gandhi once used to be the MP from the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency and Akhilesh Yadav is the incumbent MP from Azamgarh. Afzal Ansari, brother of notorious criminal Mukhtar Ansari is the current MP from Ghazipur. But the Purvanchal expressway is set to change the very identity of this region.

Purvanchal Expressway : Image Source https://upeida.up.gov.in/en

Earlier, it took 6 hours from Lucknow to reach Ghazipur. Now the time is reduced to 3 hours. The minimum tender for this project was 5.19% less than the actual estimated cost and this has benefitted the Uttar Pradesh Expressways and Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) with a profit of Rs 614 Crores. This expressway is set to bring the produce of the connected districts to cities like Lucknow and further send it easily to Delhi. The markets for raw goods will be connected to industries and thus, this highway will play a key role in boosting the economy of the state. This six-lane expressway is expandable into an eight-lane expressway.

The Gorakhpur Link Expressway

Yogi Adityanath had been the MP of Gorakhpur five times in a row from 1998 to 2017. He knows the challenges faced by the region very well. To connect the region with the mainstream developing areas of the state, he had conceived the idea of the Gorakhpur Link Expressway which connects four districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh to the iconic Purvanchal expressway. These four districts are Gorakhpur, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, and Sant Kabir Nagar. The actual construction of this highway started in February 2020 and it is scheduled to complete by the end of April 2022.

The Bundelkhand Expressway

Previous governments were very vocal about announcing various schemes for Bundelkhand but nothing great actually happened on the ground. No project made in Lucknow could reach Bundelkhand as reaching somewhere needs good road connectivity in the first place. The Bundelkhand expressway is a 296KM long project which starts at Bharatkoop in the Chitrakoot district and meets the Agra Lucknow expressway at Kudrail village in Etawah district. By this highway, the remotest part of Bundelkhand is now directly connected to Delhi. This four-lane expressway which is expandable into a six-lane expressway covers seven districts viz Chitrakoot, Banda, Mahoba, Hamirpur, Jalaun, Auraiya, and Etawah.

The transparent e-tendering process for this expressway has again benefitted UPEIDA as the minimum tender for the project has come down by about 12.72% from the estimated cost thereby saving Rs. 1132 Crores. The main carriageway of the expressway is opened in December 2021 and the expected time of completion of the project is March 2022.

The Ganga Expressway

The 594KM long Ganga expressway is Yogi Adityanath’s dream project. It starts in Meerut district and terminates at Prayagraj. It covers twelve districts viz Meerut, Hapur, Bulandshahar, Amroha, Sambhal, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, Hardoi, Unnao, Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh, and Prayagraj. It will be a six-lane highway which can further be converted into an eight-lane highway. More than 60% of the land for this expressway has been acquired and the bid for this project will soon take place.

Uttar Pradesh is now The Expressway Pradesh

Inaugurated in 2018, the ‘Agra Lucknow Expressway’, recently completed 340KM long Purvanchal the upcoming 296 km long ‘Bundelkhand Expressway’, 91 km long ‘Gorakhpur Link Expressway’ and 594 km long ‘Ganga Expressway’ will change the entire picture of Uttar Pradesh. After completion of all these, a network of 1788 km long expressway will be laid in Uttar Pradesh, whereas at present a network of 2049 km expressway is laid all over India. So Uttar Pradesh in true sense will soon become the Expressway Pradesh of India.

Rural Connectivity

It is not that roads are being built only in big cities or expressways are being built to show the world. Yogi Adityanath’s government has so far constructed 15,000 km of roads in rural areas only. The work of strengthening connectivity and infrastructure is going on more rapidly in the villages. The construction of 15,246 km of roads in 5 years breaks the records of all the previous governments. Tehsil and block level offices are being connected by wide two-lane roads. This is also benefiting the farmers, who can travel far and wide with their produce. The common people also benefit by connecting the villages with the cities through good roads.

The Yogi government has identified 1557 ‘revenue villages’ and to connect them with cities, 1763 km of roads are being constructed for Rs 1114 crore. So far 1546 ‘revenue villages’ have been connected through 1740.24 km of roads. Also, 1717 villages have been connected with major highways through 2173.60 km of roads by spending Rs 1407 crore.

Apart from this, 33 ‘revenue villages’ have been connected by spending Rs 14.35 crore by constructing 29 km of roads under ‘Mukhyamantri Samagra Gram Vikas Yojana’. There were 26 such tehsil headquarters that were not connected by two-lane roads. For this, 270 km of roads were built and Rs 387 crore was spent on it. Similarly, 144 block headquarters are being connected through roads of 1282 km, in which Rs 2088 crore is being spent. Pothole free roads are Yogi’s mantra to ensure the quality of the work being done.

The Impact of the roadways development

The very first tangible benefit of all these roadways projects to the people of Uttar Pradesh is the reduction in travel time and savings of precious fuels. All the districts on average need three hours less to reach Lucknow than the time it took earlier. The remotest parts like Ghazipur and Chitrakoot are also directly linked to the national capital through a series of expressways. The roads are a boon to the agro products as the agro products, in general, have a lower shelf life and these products can now reach the market before getting perished.

Uttar Pradesh Expressways and Industrial Development Authority is focussing to connect all the projected industrial clusters through the roadways network which will connect the raw material producers, process manufacturers and markets with each other. This is why Uttar Pradesh is attracting record FDIs ensuring industrial development in the state. Real estate prices in the areas near the highways are already shooting up. Auraiya has an NTPC power plant and GAIL’s gas-based petrochemical complex, which will benefit from the commissioning of ‘Bundelkhand Expressway’

The road connectivity will bolster the other development projects in the state such as new medical colleges, AIIMS and weapon factories which are to be set up in the Defense Corridor planned to be built in the state. The expressways built in Yogi Adityanath’s tenure cover more than thirty districts of the state. The state government has undertaken the initiative of one district one product. By this initiative, one special local product from every district will be patronized and promoted by the government. Roadways connectivity is a key step in order to make these special local products popular in the outer markets.

The terminal end of the Purvanchal expressway is at a distance of 18KM from the Bihar border. With the Bihar government extending their highways network to the state border, Lucknow and Patna can soon be connected with expressways. Therefore these expressways are connecting Bihar with Delhi through state of the art rapid transport amenities. Development projects and highways made in the BSP and SP governments were mostly centred in the western UP. But Yogi Adityanath’s government has ensured that Purvanchal and Bundelkhand come into the mainstream development. The Ganga Expressway when completed will become the heartline of the state as it will be built at a distance of 10KM from the banks of river Ganga which gives a strong backup to the waterways within the state.

Uttar Pradesh has been the house for many places of dharmik and spiritual importance. Taking this into consideration, railways have already started projects like Ramayana Express which received a very good response from the pilgrims. Similarly UP tourism department is focussing on Ramayana Circuit and Buddha Circuit for tourism. Road connectivity is a major boost for these initiatives.

Committed Leadership

Along with the state chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the whole central government has been very keenly interested when it comes to developing Uttar Pradesh. So far the development of the roadway is concerned, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Highways Development and Transport, has said that in the coming future, roads in Uttar Pradesh will compete with those in America. This comparison by the minister who has so far walked his talk holds more importance in the times when Congress leaders are still seen promising of the roads smoother than the cheeks of film actresses. Gadkari has said that his department has already spent a fund of Rs. 3 Lakh crores for roads in UP and they are looking forward to spending Rs. 5 Lakh crore more for the upcoming development projects.

PM Narendra Modi who had rallied in Uttar Pradesh in the last month for inaugurating various projects and laying foundation stones of different upcoming projects has shown his full faith in the state leadership especially the chief minister Yogi Adityanath on various occasions. His whole focus has been to explain to the people of Uttar Pradesh the benefits they are getting from what he calls the double engine government that is a BJP government both in the state and the centre.

Uttar Pradesh is all set to play a major role in Narendra Modi’s New India.

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