India’s infrastructure has undergone significant development, with a constant focus on improving road connectivity. In recent years, expressways have emerged as a dominant segment in the road sector, driving its growth story. As part of the flagship Bharatmala Pariyojana Programme (BMP), India plans to build a total of 27 greenfield expressways by 2027-28.
Continuing its efforts towards infrastructure development, the Centre has inaugurated the first phase of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway – the Delhi-Dausa-Lalsot section, spanning 246 km, on February 12, 2023. The stretch has been developed at an estimated cost of over Rs 121.5 billion. The foundation stone for the project was laid in March 2019 after receiving construction approval in 2017.
The expressway will be an important milestone in the development of economically deprived districts. In addition, it will result in significant fuel savings, improved ride quality, and increased safety over the existing NH-48 (old NH-8) highway.
With a total length of over 1,350 km, the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will replace the 341 km Purvanchal Expressway as the longest expressway in India. It will pass through Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra for which about 15,000 hectares of land has been acquired. Around 40 major interchanges along the expressway will provide connectivity to Kota, Indore, Jaipur, Bhopal, Vadodara and Surat. The expressway will serve 93 PM Gati Shakti economic nodes, 13 ports, eight major airports and eight multimodal logistics parks. In addition, a route connecting the Delhi-Noida Direct Flyway (DND) in Delhi with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai will be included.
The under-construction project has been designed with a speed limit of 120 km per hour and provision to expand to 12 lanes in the future. The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 1 trillion. As per the National Highways Authority of India, the project is expected to be completed by December 2024.
Tourism spots like Sariska, Keoladeo National Park, Ranthambore and Jaipur will draw huge benefits once the entire project is commissioned. Along the expressway, Grameen Haats are being established to help the local farmers and artisans. The travel distance between the national capital, Delhi, and the business capital, Mumbai, has been reduced by 12 per cent from 1,424 km to 1,242 km. Moreover, the travel time will be reduced by 50 per cent to 12 hours. Similarly, the travel time between Delhi and Jaipur will be reduced from five hours to three hours.
The expressway has been divided into four sections and 52 construction packages. Each package has a 24-month deadline and spans between 8 km and 46 km. Further, several spurs have been planned to improve connectivity. One of the key spurs is the 67 km long four-lane Jaipur spur from Bandikui, which will be built at a cost of Rs 20 billion. GR Infraprojects received the letter of award for the same in March 2022. Another one is the 30 km Jewar Airport Link, which will connect the under-construction Noida International Airport (NIA) with the 59 km DND-Sohna spur. In August 2022, APCO Infratech emerged as the lowest (L1) bidder to construct this on the hybrid annuity model (HAM) at an estimated cost of Rs 16.6 billion. Finally, for the 130 km long four-lane Ujjain spur connecting Garoth and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, three contracts have been awarded to GHV India (Package 1), Ravi Infrabuild Projects (Package 2) and MKC Infrastructures (Package 3).
The greenfield expressway will come with an automated traffic management system. Around 93 wayside amenities such as automated teller machines (ATMs), retail shops, food courts, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and fuel pumps will be present.
The entire stretch will be installed with CCTV surveillance and a 3 metre wide dedicated corridor for laying utility lines including optical fibre cables, gas pipelines and electricity lines. The remaining land will be used for two purposes – solar power generation and warehousing. In addition, for water harvesting, more than 2,000 water recharge points are being built at intervals of 500 metres. The eight-lane expressway has been aligned to minimise the impact on the Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary and will accommodate animal overpasses and underpasses. The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will also be the first expressway in India to have helipads and fully equipped trauma centres every 100 km.
Overall, the expressway is expected to have a catalysing effect on the development of all neighbouring regions, thus significantly contributing to the country’s economic transformation.
Ishita Gupta and Harman Mangat
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