The Uttar Pradesh government has made continuous attempts to create robust road infrastructure through the introduction of a slew of initiatives. The state government has reworked its highway and road construction policy wherein newly constructed roads will have to be maintained by contractors for a period of five years. Further, during 2016-17, the Uttar Pradesh Road Development Corporation was incorporated for carrying out road development in the state. Over the years, expressway development has picked up pace and greater emphasis is also being laid on the development of ring roads and bridges. As per UPEIDA, the expressway network in the state will span 1,192 km by 2021-22. The increased allocation to the roads and bridges sector under State Budget 2018-19 augurs well for the development of road infrastructure in the state. The central government too has laid down big numbers for the state’s road sector, promising to allocate a sum of Rs 2 trillion for road construction by 2019.
Existing road network
From 2011-12, Uttar Pradesh has added 19,310 km of roads to its network. According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the state has a total road network of 422,412 km, as of 2015-16. Of the total length, national highways span 8,483 km while state highways and district roads span 7,147 km and 53,373 km respectively. The state also has 245,396 km of rural roads, 62,565 km of urban roads and 45,448 km of project roads.
In terms of the population to road density ratio, Uttar Pradesh lags behind other states. In 2015-16, it reported a road density of only 2.08 km per 1,000 population, as against an all-India density of 4.63 km per 1,000 people. Most of the states are well ahead of Uttar Pradesh in terms of road density, except for Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand and Haryana. With respect to road quality, 83 per cent of the roads are surfaced.
Increased allocation under State Budget 2018-19
In the 2018-19 budget, the state government has allocated about Rs 176 billion for the development of good quality roads and the improvement of connectivity in the state. This is 22 per cent more than the previous year’s budget allocation. In addition, a sum of Rs 6.5 billion has been allocated for the Bundelkhand Expressway, Rs 5.5 billion for the Gorakhpur Link Expressway, Rs 10 billion for the Purvanchal Expressway and Rs 5 billion for the Agra-Lucknow Expressway. Further, Rs 7.7 billion has been allocated for the upgradation of national highways from two-lane to four-lane. In addition to these state budgetary allocations, the MoRTH plans to invest Rs 2 trillion for road construction in the state by 2019.
Expressway development on the rise
The state already has to its credit the longest expressway in the country – the 302 km Agra-Lucknow Expressway – and the 165 km Yamuna Expressway. While the six-lane access-controlled Yamuna Expressway was opened for public use in August 2012, the Agra-Lucknow Expressway was commissioned in November 2016. The former was implemented on a build-operate-transfer (BOT)-Toll basis and the latter in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode. One of the key highlights of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway is that it was completed in 22 months against the scheduled completion time of 36 months. Further, around 90 per cent of the total 3,500 hectares of land required for the project was acquired within a period of six months. This was made possible through the unique land acquisition model adopted by the Uttar Pradesh government for the project, wherein landowners were paid twice the market value of the land in urban areas and four times the market value in rural areas. In addition to being paid for the land, the landowners were also compensated for trees, standing crops and building structures situated on the land.
Given the successful completion of the project, this unique land acquisition model can be adopted by the state for upcoming projects to ensure their speedy implementation.
In April 2018, the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) finalised the alignment of three more expressways in the state, namely, the Bundelkhand Expressway, the Prayag Expressway and the Gorakhpur Link Expressway. The four-lane, 293 km Bundelkhand Expressway will commence from Jhansi and terminate at Etawah, where it will join the operational Agra-Lucknow Expressway.
In July 2018, the Uttar Pradesh government successfully completed the tendering process for the 354 km Purvanchal Expressway to be executed in EPC mode. This was the third time that bids were invited. The government had cancelled the earlier bids citing overpricing by 10.97 per cent as the cause. With the freshly undertaken bidding process, the expressway is estimated to be constructed at a cost of Rs 230 billion. At present, 93 per cent of the land required for the project has been acquired.
The project will be undertaken in eight packages and is expected to be completed within 36 months from the commencement of construction. Packages I and II of the project have been awarded to Gayatri Projects Limited at a cost of Rs 14.83 billion and Rs 12.76 billion respectively, while Package III has been awarded to Apco Infratech Limited for Rs 13.8 billion. GR Infraprojects Limited has secured Packages IV and VII of the project at an estimated cost of Rs 14.97 billion and Rs 14.37 billion respectively. Further, Packages V and VI have been awarded to PNC Infratech Limited for Rs 15.66 billion and Rs 9.54 billion respectively. Package VIII has been secured by Oriental Structural Engineering Private Limited at an estimated cost of Rs 16.22 billion.
The Uttar Pradesh government has also approved the proposal to secure a Rs 120 billion loan from Punjab National Bank for construction of the Purvanchal Expressway. In the first phase, Rs 78 billion will be provided at an interest rate of 8.3 per cent for 15 years. The loan will be repaid in 48 instalments with a three-year moratorium period.
Bridges and ring roads
According to Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation Limited, 115 bridge projects entailing an investment of Rs 34.64 billion are in progress. In addition, the construction of 68 rail overbridges (RoBs) at an estimated cost of Rs 20.56 billion is also under way. Some of the major upcoming bridge projects include the Ambedkar Nagar bridge, the Lucknow-Barabanki RoB, the Yamuna river bridge, the Naini-Jhunsi bridge and the Chanchikala bridge. Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the construction of a six-lane, 9.9 km bridge over the Ganga river in Allahabad. It will be constructed over a period of three years at an estimated cost of Rs 19.48 billion.
Besides bridges, significant emphasis is also being laid on the development of ring roads. Key upcoming ring roads include the Kanpur outer ring road, the Lucknow outer ring road, the Rae Bareli ring road, the Agra inner ring road and the Basti ring road.
At present, the Uttar Pradesh Major District Roads Improvement Project, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is in progress. The project, which was approved in April 2016, aims to improve about 430 km of major district roads in the state by end March 2021. Along with ADB’s loan of $300 million, the Uttar Pradesh government will provide counterpart support of $128 million for the project. It is being executed by the Public Works Department (PWD) of Uttar Pradesh.
The World Bank is likely to fund the $570 million Uttar Pradesh Core Road Development Project. As per the proposal, the World Bank will provide $400 million as a soft loan while the remaining $170 million will be provided by the state government. The state PWD has identified 24,095 km of core road network for development under the project.
In July 2018, ADB formulated a mega infrastructure investment plan for the state, wherein it identified 242 multi-sector projects across six regions of Uttar Pradesh. In accordance with the plan, ADB has recommended a 50 per cent increase in investment in the state road sector.
Given the lucrative pipeline of projects on offer, the future of the road sector in Uttar Pradesh seems bright. These road projects are likely to offer huge opportunities for all the stakeholders – developers, contractors, operators, and equipment and material providers. This will help in bringing about a significant reduction in travel time between cities, making road transportation more efficient. However, there is a need to tackle issues related to institutional mechanisms as well as land acquisition and funding in a time-bound manner for the successful implementation of these projects.