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Sunday Special » Kaleidoscope

Posted at: Jun 10, 2018, 12:12 AM; last updated: Jun 10, 2018, 12:12 AM (IST)

The breather at Kundli e-way

The Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal (KGP) Expressway cuts travel time by an hour and substantially reduces pollution levels in Delhi, besides offering a hassle-free journey

Parveen Arora in Rai (Sonepat)

Finally, traffic snarls on National Highway-44 (towards Delhi) would be a thing of the past. The 135-km stretch — Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal (KGP) Expressway, known as Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) — is open. It is flaunted as the first smart and green highway. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 27. 

Many vehicles are already taking the expressway route to Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida), Palwal and other cities. The ‘smart’ passage saves at least an hour’s time. So, if you are driving from Rai to Palwal, it would take only 70 minutes. 

Rajan Kumar, a resident engineer of the consultant company Egis India, says pollution levels in the national Capital will come down by 27 per cent. Plus, the stretch will spur economic activity. “Around 50,000 vehicles passing through Delhi to J&K, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan will be diverted, bringing down pollution and congestion. As per an estimate more than 1 lakh trucks pass through Delhi every day. Of the commercial vehicles entering Delhi, heavy-duty trucks are mainly responsible for pollution.”

If you take a trip down the Rai-Bhagpat stretch, you would notice finishing touches being given to the 18-lane iconic toll plaza: its height is 170 feet and width 154 feet on either side. A digital art gallery of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has also been set up near the toll plaza to make the people aware about the construction and the problems the EPE project has faced. The stretch has been kept toll-free till June 15.

The six-lane EPE is equipped with the electronic toll collection system. It means at all the 16 exits, you pay the toll as per the actual distance, says Rajan Kumar. For example, if you are driving from Rai to Baghpat, you will be given an entry slip that you have to display at the toll booth of the Baghpat exit point. The booth operator would know the distance and charge you the toll. The rates are: Rs 1.384/km from car/jeep and Rs 2.37/ km from lightweight vehicle. 

The expressway also has weigh-in-motion devices at all the 30 entry points to stop overloaded vehicles — a major cause for accidents and pollution. “This will also enhance the road’s longevity,” says Atul Singhal, another resident engineer of Egis India. “We are also putting up CCTV cameras at various locations to monitor the vehicles’ speed.”

The NHAI is in the process of setting up 32 fountains and 36 replicas of Ashoka’s Lion, Ashoka Chakra, Konark Temple, Jallianwala Bagh, Gateway of India, Qutab Minar, Red Fort, Hyderabad’s Char Minar, Chittorgarh’s Kirti Stambhand and Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal. 

The Supreme Court in 2005 had directed the government to build eastern and western peripheral expressways within three years to make Delhi less polluted. The two expressways each about 135km long — Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal expressway and Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) expressway — were planned in 2006. The idea was to form a ring road outside Delhi for channeling non-Delhi-bound traffic. But as usual, the project got delayed due to various reasons. 

The Prime Minister had laid the foundation stones for both projects at Rai on November 5, 2015, and set the deadline for March 12, 2018. The Supreme Court on May 10, 2018, set May 31 deadline for the NHAI to make the newly constructed EPE operational.

The EPE has cost Rs 11,000 crore and is completed in a record 500 working days against the scheduled target of 910 days. The construction was halted for more than 400 days following an agitation by farmers demanding enhanced compensation for the land acquired for the EPE, said Rajan Kumar.

The Kundli-Manesar-Palwal stretch (Western Peripheral Expressway) is expected to be ready soon. The work on it began in 2006 and the first deadline was 2009. In 2016, the stretch between Manesar and Palwal was inaugurated by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Officials say around 1,680 hectares were required to build the EPE. The land acquisition cost about Rs 5,900 crore. Over 9,000 workers and others were hired to complete the project. Rajan says the highway has eight solar-power plants along the corridor. These plants generate 4 MW, enough for lighting underpasses and running solar pumps for watering plants through drip irrigation. The stretch also has rainwater harvesting facilities on either side of the expressway.

Features 

  • Electronic toll collection system. You pay for the distance covered
  • 18-lane toll plaza: its height is 170 ft and width 154 ft on either side
  • Smart highway traffic management system (HTMS). This can preempt traffic snarls
  • Video incident detection system (VIDS) for monitoring and facilitating first-aid.  
  • It has 406 structures:  four major bridges on the Yamuna, 46 minor bridges, three flyovers, seven inter-changes, 221 underpasses and 8 road over-bridges
Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE)

  • The 135-km EPE passes through Kundli (Haryana-Delhi border) Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida), Palwal and other towns. 
  • It links NH-44 (Kundli) & NH-19 (Palwal) after crossing the Yamuna and three other highways.

Cost: Rs 11,000 crore

Land: 1,680 hectares (over 4100 acres)

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