BY DEBAJYOTI CHAKRABORTY
KOLKATA, 22 DECEMBER 2022
The state chief secretary, Dr. Hari Krishna Dwivedi has cleared the route alignment of about Rs.17,000 crores six laning 267.50 kilometres stretch of Varanasi – Kolkata Expressway passing through the six districts of West Bengal at a high-level meeting in Nabanna in Kolkata today.
As there has been no issue with the land acquisition for the upcoming showcase expressway project in the state, the chief secretary has directed the six district magistrates of Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore, Hooghly, Howrah and South 24 Parganas to start land acquisition and expedite the process soon. Top officials of National Highways and state government were present in the meeting.
West Bengal has the largest portion of the Rs.32,000 crores 654.5 kilometres stretch of Varanasi to Kolkata Expressway. Incidentally, today’s meeting is a big push to this most hyped expressway project connecting Kolkata and Varanasi, barely a few days before the visit of MP of Varanasi and PM of India, Narendra Modi in Kolkata on 30 December.
Though all the other states have moved fast on this project and 3D notification has already been completed.
S. A. Infra Private Limited has prepared the Detailed Project Report (DPR). The highway will enter West Bengal through Jhalda in Purulia district.
As a part of the six lane Varanai to Kolkata Expressway project, a third bridge upon Hooghly River will be set up near Bagnan in Howrah district to ease the vehicular traffic of the two existing bridges upon Hooghly River, said Mr. S.K.Mallick, Project Director of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in Durgapur.
Purulia district will have 80 kilometres and Bankura district will have 61.7 kilometres, the PD of NHAI added.
The Kolkata – Varanasi Expressway is an upcoming greenfield access controlled expressway in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The Expressway is part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase – 2 and will connect Kolkata with Ranchi and Varanasi.
The Expressway is set to be operational by 2027. A total of 1340 hectares of land are required to be acquired for the entire project.
Earlier this month the NHAI has floated a global tender for 54 kilometres intial stretch at Varanasi. The award contract is on Hybrid Annuity Mode (HAM) , which means the contractor will design, build, operate and then transfer the property to NHAI for toll collection. The first phase of construction work is expected to start in this stretch in Uttar Pradesh from January 2023.
The Expressway once completed will ensure smooth travel from Patna to Varanasi, Ranchi to Varanasi and Kolkata to Varanasi and will ease the heavy vehicular traffic burden on the existing National Highway -2 ( erstwhile Grand Trunk Road built by Sher Shah) connecting Kolkata with New Delhi.
The annual vehicular growth rate of this NH2 stretch is over 12 percent.
During the period of PM Atal Behari Vajpayee the NH2 has been converted to four lane Golden Quadrilateral Highway and then recently upgraded further to six lane highway.
Uttar Pradesh will have a stretch of 22 kilometres, Bihar – 162.60 kilometres, Jharkhand – 204.70 kilometres and West Bengal 267.60 kilometres out of the total 654.50 kilometres stretch of Varanasi – Kolkata Expressway project.
Currently, the distance from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to Kolkata, West Bengal on National Highway no. 19 is approximately 690 kilometres and it takes around 12 to 14 hours to cover this distance. After successful completion of Varanasi- Ranchi- Kolkata expressway, the overall distance will be reduced and with the facility of world class expressway which can handle high speed of vehicles, the travel time which is currently 12-13 hours will be reduced to just 6 to 7 hours.
It will change the socio economic scenario of the regions and there will be both tangible and intangible growths on both sides of the expressway stretch.