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Yogi govt speeds up Akhilesh's pet Lucknow-Ballia Purvanchal Expressway

Virendra Singh Rawat / Lucknow 09 May 17 | 04:47 PM

Yogi Adityanath's government is simultaneously probing alleged financial and land acquisition irregularities in the Agra-Lucknow Expressway project, which was also a flagship programme of former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav

The Yogi Adityanath government in UP has fast-tracked the completion of the Lucknow-Ballia Purvanchal Expressway, even as it is probing alleged financial and land acquisition irregularities in the Agra-Lucknow Expressway project. Both the expressway projects were flagship programmes of former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.

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The state government is targetting to complete the land acquisition process for the mega infrastructure project within the next two months.

So far, of the 4,725 hectares of land required for the project, only 1,827 hectares — less than 40 per cent — has so far been acquired. Land acquisition alone is estimated to cost nearly Rs 3,500 crore, which is 16 per cent of the total pegged cost of the expressway at Rs 22,000 crore.

The proposed 8-lane Purvanchal Expressway would traverse 10 districts viz. Lucknow, Barabanki, Amethi, Faizabad, Sultanpur, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Mau, Ghazipur and Ballia.

On Monday, UP Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) CEO Awnish Kumar Awasthi had expressed dissatisfaction over the slow pace of land acquisition and directed district magistrates (DM) of Lucknow, Ghazipur, Azamgarh and Barabanki to speed up the land acquisition process.

He informed that the concerned DMs had been allocated sufficient funds to meet the land acquisition costs.

Akhilesh had conceptualised the Purvanchal Expressway project for a seamless connectivity between impoverished Eastern UP districts to the National Capital Region (NCR) via the operational 165-km Agra-Greater Noida Yamuna Expressway and 302-km Agra-Lucknow Expressway. He had laid the foundation of Purvanchal Expressway on December 22, 2016.

The proposed expressway is projected to cut travel time between Lucknow and Ballia to less than five hours, allowing farmers to speedily transport farm produce to mandis for better prices.

After coming to power, Yogi had dropped the prefix of ‘Samajwadi’ from all the major developmental projects, including Purvanchal Expressway.

Akhilesh’s flagship projects included Agra-Lucknow Expressway (Rs 15,000 crore), Lucknow-Ballia Purvanchal Expressway (Rs 22,000 crore) and Lucknow Metro Rail (Rs 12,000 crore).

In the supplementary budget for financial year (FY) 2016-17 tabled in the state assembly on August 23, 2016, Akhilesh had sought Rs 800 crore towards land acquisition for Purvanchal Expressway.

On December 21, 2016, the Akhilesh government had made additional provision of Rs 1,000 crore in the interim budget for FY18 towards land acquisition and other costs.

The government had planned to develop the expressway out of its own coffers like the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, since the projects had failed to take off under the public private partnership (PPP) route.

However, Akhilesh had demanded Rs 5,000 crore from the Centre for the expressway.

On November 21, 2016, Akhilesh and his father, then SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav had inaugurated Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which also had facilities for offering landing and takeoff facilities for Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter planes during emergency.

Mirage and Sukhoi fighter jets had also presented an air show to mark the occasion.

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