Baghpat : Asserting that infrastructure is a key priority of his government, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said Rs 3 lakh crore has been spent on laying a network of 28,000 km of highways.
Highways, railways, airways and I-ways have been the focus of the government, he said.
Highways construction has reached 27-km a day from mere 12-km a day during the Congress regime, while last year 10 crore people undertook air journeys, he said.
Modi was addressing a public rally in here after dedicating the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) to the nation. The 135 km EPE has been built at a cost of Rs 110,000 million (Dh5,965,155,484) in 500 days.
He said that apart from Rs 5 lakh crore provision for Bharatmala for highways, a provision of Rs 14 lakh crore was made in the budget to strengthen agriculture related infrastructure.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves during the roadshow, after inaugurating the 9km long section of Delhi-Meerut expressway, in East Delhi, on Sunday. AFP
The government is sensitive to the plight of sugarcane farmers and adequate steps are taken to provide proper prices for their crop, he said.
While talking about social justice, Modi said his government is committed to the protection of dalits and has constituted special courts for fast-track hearing of cases of atrocities.
Lauding Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, he said criminals in UP are now surrendering themselves and pledging not to indulge in illegal acts.
About the Ganga cleaning programme, Modi said more than 200 projects worth Rs 210,000 million have been taken up.
Taking a jibe at Congress, Modi said it had betrayed people for 70 years and played politics to create a crisis of confidence whether related to EVMs or other critical issues.
He said the opposition was spreading rumours on farmer issues and asked people not to give credence to lies about farms being given on contract farming.
In his about 50 minute-speech, he said all-round development work has been initiated.
Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said, the expressway will reduce 27 per cent pollution and ease 41 per cent traffic jam.
He said the highway was built in a record 500 days against 910 days time.
Gadkari said it the Delhi-Meerut expressway will be completed by next March and reduce the travel time between the two cities to 40 minutes from two-and-half hours at present.
A lot of traffic, outbound or non-destined for Delhi will be diverted, he has said, adding that at least 50,000 vehicles going to Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan will be diverted bringing down vehicular pollution.
The alignment of EPE starts near Kundli and passes through six Parliamentary Constituencies -- Sonepat, Bagpat, Gaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Palwal.
Gadkari also announced that Delhi-Saharanpur Highway will be built on EPE pattern and foundation stone of the Rs 70,000 million Dwarka Expressway will be launched soon by the Prime Minister.
Besides, he announced the Rs 450,000 million Delhi-Mumbai project via Jaipur and Vadodara on a new alignment, which will save Rs 160,000 million on land acquisition.
EPE is India's first highway to be lit by solar power besides provisions of rain water harvesting every 500 metre on both sides. It also showcases 36 national monuments and 40 fountains.
There are 8 solar power plants on this expressway having a capacity of 4000-kilo watt (4 MW).
The state-of-the-art road has auto challan system for over-speeding, as cameras will capture speed of vehicles besides having provisions of tolling only for the distance travelled. The expressway has an iconic toll plaza at the entry point on Kundli side besides digital art gallery.
It is also equipped with smart and intelligent highway traffic management system (HTMS) and video incident detection system (VIDS) and is environment-friendly with world-class safety features and smart/ interactive infrastructure.
The foundation stone of the greenfield project was laid by Modi on November 5, 2015.
About 2.5 lakh trees have been planted alongside the expressways including transplant of 8-10 year old trees with drip irrigation system for plantation.
It has consumed 11 lakh tonne of cement, 1 lakh tonne of steel, 3.6 crore cum earthwork and 1.2 crore cum fly-ash. Gadkari has said earlier that the project has generated employment opportunities of about 50 lakh man-days and 9,375 manpower was deployed here.
The fully access controlled six-lane expressway provides entry and exit designated interchanges only. It has 406 structures of which 4 are major bridges, 46 minor bridges, 3 flyovers, 7 inter-changes, 221 underpasses and 8 ROBs.
The project had earlier faced resistance from farmers over land and other issues which have since been solved by giving higher compensation.
The Supreme Court on May 10 had directed the NHAI to throw open the Eastern Peripheral Expressway for the public by May 31, asking why were they "waiting" for its inauguration by the Prime Minister.
The apex court had said if the 135-km expressway is not inaugurated on or before May 31, it should be thrown open for public who were facing traffic congestion in Delhi.
The Eastern and the Western Peripheral Expressways were planned in 2006 following the apex court's order to build a ring road outside the national capital for channelling the traffic not bound for Delhi.