Noida/Lucknow: The $2.4 billion Yamuna Expressway opened its toll gates Thursday, promising to cut the travel time between New Delhi and Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, by nearly half to around two-and-a-half hours.
Built by infrastructure major Jaypee Group, a return drive the same day on the 165-km, six-lane highway will attract a toll of Rs.510, with the state government approving a maximum levy of Rs.2.10 per km for a passenger car, one-way.
The toll will come into effect Aug 16 after a six-day celebratory waiver.
On the national highway, where traffic snarls are commonplace, it takes upward of four hours between Delhi and Agra. But with an upper speed limit of 100 km per hour for a passenger car, the new expressway has cut that time taken by almost half.
The company said the initial feasibility studies showed a potential for 20,000-40,000 vehicles each day. Jaipur in Rajasthan, Agra in Uttar Pradesh and the national capital of New Delhi constitute what is called the golden triangle for tourism in India.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav inaugurated the $2.4 billion freeway from the state capital Lucknow by way of a video-conference link to the actual event held at its starting point at Greater Noida.
“The Yamuna Expressway is conceived with the idea to not only reduce travel time between New Delhi and Agra but also open up avenues for industrial and urban development of the region and provide the base for tourism and other industries,” the Jaypee Group said.
Originally conceived as the Taj Expressway project during then Mayawati government in the state in 2001, it could not take off for another two years due to a change in the regime. It was revived by her administration after regaining power in 2007.
Officials said the six-lane highway is built under the public-private partnership model and is the biggest such project in the country. Jaypee Infratech, the company that has built the project, has a 36-year concession (rights) over the it.
The promoters will also develop integrated townships over 500 hectares each at Noida, Jaganpur, Mirzapur, Tappal and Kuber. They have also build three toll plazas, 41 minor bridges, 70 vehicular underpasses, 76 pedestrian underpasses and 183 culverts.
Jaypee Group deputy chairman Manoj Gaur said during the inauguration function in Lucknow that his company will also build a 100-bed hospital near the expressway spread over five acres under the Yamuna Expressway Social Upliftment Trust.
Chief Minister Yadav asked the developers to upgrade the service lanes along side the expressway and fulfil the commitments made to farmers. He also ruled out acquisition of farmland by force and said infrastructure was a priority for his government.
Some key points of the expressway project:
– Touted as India’s longest access-controlled concrete expressway
– Provision to expand freeway to eight lanes, against current six lanes
– Toll at three plazas with 16 gates on each side to make the process swift
– Medical facilities like vans, stretchers, bed and medicines on call
– Tie-up with two major hospitals, with air ambulances for emergencies
– Fuel stations, ATMs, small convenio and public convenience facilities soon
– Talks with known brands for food courts along the expressway
– Two-wheelers also allowed with a speed limit of 60 km per hour
– Speed limit for heavy vehicles also fixed at 60 km per hour