UP: Modi-Yogi ‘Dream Project’ Purvanchal Expressway Caves in Within 10 Months of Inauguration
Lucknow: Within a year of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a portion of the Purvanchal Expressway developed deep potholes due to heavy rains. The 341-kilometre-long road developed 15-feet-deep potholes on Thursday night at Haliyapur area in Uttar Pradesh's Jaunpur district. As a result, traffic on the route was hit for almost 10 hours.
Four people travelling toward Lucknow suffered injuries after their car landed in the pothole. Several other vehicles were also damaged. The Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) officials, however, swung into action and the pit was filled up and repaired within hours. Traffic was restored on the expressway on Friday morning.
Images and videos of the damaged road caught eyeballs on social media after Opposition Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders shared these on their respective Twitter handles.
Congress questioned the quality of the work and also sought action against the officials concerned. "If the expressway, which was dream project of PM Modi and CM Yogi, built at a cost of Rs 22,000 crore cannot withstand rains within 11 months, then serious questions arise on its quality," Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate told NewsClick, adding that the head of the project, the engineer concerned and the companies responsible, should be summoned.
However, Durgesh Upadhyay, Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Authority spokesperson, told NewsClick that the "the portion of the expressway had not caved in due to incessant rainfall. The fact is that an optical fibre cable was being laid on the expressway for the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), and a pit was dug for the same. The pit got filled with rain water. However, the industrial authority arranged a team for the repair work, and the pit was filled overnight."
Last year, on November 16, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the 341-km Purvanchal Expressway at Karwal Kheri in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
That expressway also witnessed a 45-minute airshow organised by the Indian Air Force. Multiple landings and takeoffs were done from the airstrip by the fighter jets in front of Modi and Yogi.
Under the 'touch and go' operation, the fighter plane touched the expressway and then took off. Planes like Sukhoi, Mirage, Rafale, AN 32e participated.
Touted as the ‘dream project’ of the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government, Prime Minister Modi had said "this is the development and progress of UP.”
The 341-kilometer long Purvanchal Expressway starts from Chandsarai village in Lucknow and ends at Haidaria village located on National Highway 31 in Ghazipur (18km from UP-Bihar border). The expressway, constructed at an estimated cost of about Rs 22,500 crore, links the state capital Lucknow with eastern districts with links to the major cities of Prayagraj and Varanasi. In addition, the expressway passes through nine districts, including Lucknow, Barabanki, Amethi, Ayodhya, Sultanpur, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Mau and Ghazipur.
The villagers NewsClick spoke with said this was not the first case that a portion of a road caved in on this expressway built 11 months ago. In May 2021 also, the beam of the underpass of the expressway between Kuwansi-Haliyapur was damaged after three days of continuous rainfall. The underpass's railing and sidewalk soil was washed away. It has developed cracks due to incessant rain, but UPEIDA turned a deaf ear.
Meanwhile, some experts are questioning the quality of construction work. According to the local people, the place where the soil has been battered should have been released by pouring more and more water. After that, a road roller should have been used while adding soil, but this did not happen.
They wondered whether construction standards had been ‘compromised’ due to the pressure to ready the expressway in record time.
This is not an isolated incident of potholes on the expressway due to heavy rains in Uttar Pradesh. Within a week of the inauguration of the 296-km Bundelkhand Expressway by PM Modi in Jalaun district, a part of it got damaged following heavy rains.
As a result of the incident, two cars and a motorcycle met with accidents in the Chhiriya area near Salempur on the expressway.
The Bundelkhand Expressway has been constructed at a cost of about Rs 14,850 crore under the sponsorship of UPEIDA.
When asked why CM Yogi's pet projects were caving in, an expert, on the condition of anonymity, told NewsClick that, "two things can be said mainly: rampant corruption in construction, which has led to the use of poor quality construction materials. Also, to earn more profit, the working organisation did not follow the set standards."
The expert said another reason could be the pressure to build these two expressways ahead of their deadline. The 296-km long Bundelkhand Expressway was completed in 28 months despite the target of 36 months that was fixed. The Yogi Adityanath government also saved Rs 1,132 crore, which is nearly 12.72% of the originally estimated cost, through e-tendering. Similarly, the 341-km long Purvanchal Expressway was completed within 40 months.
"Under pressure from the Opposition to build an economical expressway ahead of the deadline, and to showcase it, many parameters have been overlooked,” he said.
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