The first phase of India’s maiden 14-lane highway will be completed next month, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said after inspecting the progress of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway project.
The entire 96-kilometre expressway will be completed by 2019, the minister said.
The expressway is being built by the road transport and highways ministry on the hybrid annuity model at a cost of more than Rs 7,000 crore. Its first phase starts from the Nizamuddin Bridge in Delhi and ends at Uttar Pradesh border.
Once complete, the expressway, which has a cycling track running alongside, is expected to substantially reduce traffic congestion in east Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida.
It is being completed in a record 14 months as against the scheduled 30 months. It includes 6-lane expressway in the middle and 4-lane highway on both sides.
Talking about the high levels of pollution in the capital, Gadkari said automobiles alone are not responsible for pollution and climate change is equally to blame. He said the odd-even scheme, proposed to be reintroduced by the Delhi government, cannot be the only solution and that there is an urgent need for vacuum cleaning the roads and looking for more scientific solutions
“I have called the environment minister for a meeting. We need to look for more scientific solutions,” he said.
The minister said automakers should move to electric vehicles and cleaner fuels such as biofuel and ethanol since the government has already formulated the policy.
Addressing the International Road Federation’s World Road meeting, Gadkari said that India is looking to reduce the number of fatalities in road accidents by half in the next three years.
“Roads are increasing but the worrying part is that road accidents are also increasing. Road safety is a very sensitive subject for us,” the minister said.