Major Milestone: Centre launches the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway Phase I

India’s infrastructure has undergone significant development, with a constant focus on improving road connectivity. In recent years, expressways have emerged as a dominant segment in the road sector, driving its growth story. As part of the flagship Bharatmala Pariyojana Programme (BMP), India plans to build a total of 27 greenfield expressways by 2027-28.

Continuing its efforts towards infrastructu­re development, the Centre has inaugurated the first phase of the Delhi-Mumbai Express­way – the Delhi-Dausa-Lalsot section, spanning 246 km, on February 12, 2023. The stretch has been developed at an estimated co­st of over Rs 121.5 billion. The foundation stone for the project was laid in March 2019 after receiving construction approval in 2017.

The expressway will be an important milestone in the development of economically dep­rived districts. In addition, it will result in significant fuel savings, improved ride quality, and increased safety over the existing NH-48 (old NH-8) highway.

Project specifications

With a total length of over 1,350 km, the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will replace the 341 km Purvanchal Expressway as the longest expressway in India. It will pass through Delhi, Harya­na, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maha­rashtra for which about 15,000 hectares of land has been acquired. Around 40 major interchang­es along the expressway will provide connectivity to Kota, Indore, Jaipur, Bhopal, Vadodara and Surat. The expressway will serve 93 PM Gati Sha­kti economic nodes, 13 ports, eight major airports and eight multimodal logistics parks. In addition, a route connecting the Delhi-Noida Di­rect Flyway (DND) in Delhi with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai will be included.

The under-construction project has been designed with a speed limit of 120 km per hour and provision to expand to 12 lanes in the future. The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 1 trillion. As per the National Highways Au­tho­rity of India, the project is expected to be completed by December 2024.

Tourism spots like Sariska, Keoladeo Natio­nal Park, Ranthambore and Jaipur will dr­aw huge benefits once the entire project is commissioned. Along the expressway, Grameen Haats are being established to help the local farmers and artisans. The travel distance bet­ween the national capital, Delhi, and the business capital, Mum­bai, has been reduced by 12 per cent from 1,424 km to 1,242 km. More­over, the travel time will be reduced by 50 per cent to 12 hours. Similarly, the travel time bet­ween Delhi and Jaipur will be reduced from five hou­rs to three hours.

The expressway has been divided into four sections and 52 construction packages. Each package has a 24-month deadline and spans between 8 km and 46 km. Further, several spurs have been planned to improve connectivity. One of the key spurs is the 67 km long four-lane Jaipur spur from Bandikui, which will be built at a cost of Rs 20 billion. GR Infraprojects received the letter of award for the same in March 2022. Another one is the 30 km Jewar Airport Link, which will connect the under-construction Noida International Airport (NIA) with the 59 km DND-Sohna spur. In August 2022, APCO Infratech emerged as the lowest (L1) bidder to construct this on the hybrid annuity model (HAM) at an estimated cost of Rs 16.6 billion. Finally, for the 130 km long four-lane Ujjain spur connecting Garoth and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, three contracts have been awarded to GHV India (Package 1), Ravi Infrabuild Projects (Package 2) and MKC Infrastructures (Package 3).

Project features

The greenfield expressway will come with an automated traffic management system. Arou­nd 93 wayside amenities such as automated teller machines (ATMs), retail shops, food courts, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and fuel pumps will be present.

The entire stretch will be installed with CCTV surveillance and a 3 metre wide dedicated corridor for laying utility lines including optical fibre cables, gas pipelines and electricity lines. The remaining land will be used for two purposes – solar power generation and warehousing. In addition, for water harvesting, more than 2,000 water recharge points are being built at intervals of 500 metres. The eight-lane expressway has been aligned to minimise the impact on the Ra­nthambore Wildlife Sanctuary and will accom­mo­date animal overpasses and underpasses. The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will also be the first expressway in India to have helipads and fully equipped trauma centres every 100 km.

Overall, the expressway is expected to have a catalysing effect on the development of all nei­ghbouring regions, thus significantly contributing to the country’s economic transformation.

Ishita Gupta and Harman Mangat