The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Expressway gift on Atal birthday

Ahmedabad, Nov. 19: The country’s second expressway from Ahmedabad to Vadodara will open on December 25 — its nativity coinciding with the birthday of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who will inaugurate it.

The Mumbai-Pune expressway — called National Expressway 2 — was the first to become operational in the country. The Ahmedabad-Vadodara one — National Expressway 1 — ought to have been completed first but work was held up after the January 2001 quake and the post-Godhra riots this February.

Work on the first phase of the expressway is expected to be complete early next month. The three-hour drive from Ahmedabad to Vadodara will then be cut to about an hour.

The Narendra Modi regime, optimistic about its chances in the December 12 elections, has asked the National Highway Authority of India to complete the project by month-end.

“We are not concerned who will come to power, but the present administration has requested us to complete the project so that it can be inaugurated by the Prime Minister on December 25,” said a senior official in charge of the project.

Expressways are highways on which vehicles run at high speeds. Both sides are barricaded so that people and cattle from nearby villages do not stray on to them. There are over-bridges and underpasses every 2 to 3 km to help people cross to the other side.

The World Bank sanctioned Rs 137 crore to the Government of India in 1986 for the project, which was executed in association with the state government. But it hit a roadblock in 1991 because of political and legal problems.

It was then handed over to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in 1998. The work, started with an initial sanction of Rs 740 crore, is now nearing completion after being set back five months by the quake and another two by the riots.

The first phase, covering 43.4 km from Ahmedabad to Nadiad, will be completed by month-end. The second phase from Nadiad to Vadodara is scheduled to be complete by next year.

The first phase is being executed by Jaya Constructions in a joint venture with an Indonesian company, PTE Sombar Mitra. The second phase will be a joint venture of the Hyderabad-based Nagarujuna Construction company and LG Engineering and Construction of South Korea.

While National Expressway 2 has concrete as the base, NE1 has used polymer combined with rubber and charcoal to provide a smooth uninterrupted drive even at 180 kmph. The technology was provided by the US-based company, DuPont.

NE1 is part of the 5,851-km Golden Quadrilateral that will connect the four metros.

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