The six-lane, access-controlled Yamuna Expressway was finally thrown open on Thursday via a video link by the chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, at 11am from Lucknow. His uncle and Samajwadi Party MP, Ram Gopal Yadav, waved the green flag at the Greater Noida end.
Now, the drive to Agra from New Delhi should not take more than two-and-a-half hours. From Noida and Greater Noida, the time taken to cover the distance would be even less.
At the inaugural function, Ram Gopal Yadav said that expressways like this opened doors for development and progress. He observed that the reduction in travel time would save many man-hours that can be used productively.
While Ram Gopal Yadav said he believed the speed limit should be at least 120 kmph, Akhilesh, speaking in Lucknow, repeatedly cautioned commuters not to drive over the designated speed limit of 100 kmph.
Ram Gopal Yadav asked the Jaypee group, which has built and will maintain the road, to provide parallel service roads for toll-free access and for facilitating movement by villagers. He also suggested several rectifications. The Authority, after handing over the completion certificate for the project to the developer,has provided a window of 180 days for dealing with the shortcomings.
The Jaypee group had some more good news for commuters. It announced on the occasion that the Noida-Greater Noida expressway will remain a toll-free road. The Noida-Greater Noida expressway, which was earlier part of the concession agreement of the Yamuna Expressway project, has been delinked from it. The expressway promoter will also develop five integrated townships on 500 hectares each at Noida, Jaganpur, Mirzapur, Tappal near Aligarh and Kuber near Agra along the e-way. Officials said that four hospitals, two in Gautam Budh Nagar and one each in Tappal and Agra, had also been planned.
This project had witnessed many delays since it was conceived way back in 2001 during the Mayawati regime. It had then been named Taj Expressway. Thereafter, it did not take off because of a change of government in the state in 2003. The project was revived in 2007 and re-named as Yamuna Expressway, with a deadline of 2013.
The project has consumed Rs. 12,839 crore. The state government had acquired land in 1,182 villages of six districts from Greater Noida to Agra for the purpose. A huge price was paid to facilitate the project - while three farmers and a policeman were killed at Tappal in Aligarh in 2010, two farmers and as many policemen lost their lives at Bhatta-Parsaul in Greater Noida in 2011.