BJP, SP collision on Poorvanchal Expressway

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A political war of words has broken out in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the foundation stone laying by the Prime Minister for the Poorvanchal Expressway in Azamgarh on Saturday. The ruling BJP is claiming that it has saved more than Rs 1,500 crore from being “pocketed” by the erstwhile Samajwadi Party government in the project while the SP is in turn accusing the BJP of delaying the project.

“The expressway would have been half complete by now if our government had come to power again,” SP spokesman Sunil Singh Yadav told ET on Thursday. “But it has been 14 months under the Yogi government and the tender was cancelled thrice and work has still not begun. We had built the Agra-Lucknow expressway within 23 months.”

However, a day earlier, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had alleged while visiting Azamgarh that the cost of the Poorvanchal e-way project from Lucknow to Ghazipur was inflated to the tune of over Rs 1,500 crore during the SP government’s tenure and that SP leaders would have pocketed the money. “We have reduced the civil cost by re-tendering,” he said, a point that he and the PM may also raise on Saturday.

ET has learnt that the cost has been reduced owing to mainly two developments. One, UP is saving Rs 883 crore by reducing the width of the expressway median from 22.5 metres (in the SP government’s blueprint) to 5.5 metres and installing crash barriers and anti-glare screens all along the median on the proposed expressway.

The new government has said this has been done in consultation with the National Highways Authority of India. Second, by issuing a fresh tender last month, UP will be saving nearly Rs 600 crore as the value of the bids it has got is 5.24% lower than the anticipated cost of construction of Rs 11,836 crore.

The BJP-led government has dismissed the year-long delay in the project, saying only 20% land was acquired when SP government gave out the tenders, while it has acquired 93% of the land. “We aim to complete the project well before the deadline of 2021,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.

“It will be a very badly built expressway now – people of UP will see the difference between the poorly constructed Poorvanchal e-way and Agra-Lucknow e-way built by us,” said the SP spokesman cited earlier. The Adityanath government has got a Rs 12,000 crore loan from the Punjab National Bank at 8.3% interest to fund the construction of the e-way.

Source: Economic Times