Delhi to Mumbai in 13 hours soon!
29 June 2020 : Steady progress is being made on the Rs 1-trillion Delhi-Mumbai Expressway project (1,261 km), with work having started on a 497-km stretch, likely to commence soon on another 162 km that has been awarded and a length of 569 km being under the bidding process. The eight-lane expressway, being built under the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) route, would reduce the distance between the two cities by over 150 km and cut travel time to 13 hours from 24 hours now.
Likely to be ready by 2023-24, the project was necessitated because of heavy congestion on the Delhi-Mumbai National Corridor along NH-48 of the Golden Quadrilateral.
The six-lane corridor, a critical component of the country’s road network, sees average traffic of around 80,000 passenger car units (PCUs), a figure that is expected to rise to around 100,000 PCUs soon. What’s worse, widening the corridor further presents logistical challenges.
In its June report, brokerage firm Credit Suisse has said, ‘This is the first time that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is working on a greenfield alignment for such a large project. It has turned out to be cheaper and faster based on lower land acquisition cost and lesser burden of shifting utilities and rehabilitation of people living along the corridor.’
Passing through Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway would also provide easier connectivity to the cities of Jaipur, Kota, Chittorgarh, Indore, Ujjain, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. ‘The reduction in distance and time is expected to have significant economic benefits. Reduction in distance will result in a reduction of 8-9% in the logistics costs on the corridor and will result in a saving of around Rs 100,000 crore to the economy over its lifetime. Reduction in distance, time and fuel consumption will also enable a reduction in forex outgo, as a significant proportion of India’s crude requirements are imported,’ the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has said.
The corridor would have controlled access with closed tolling. A network of 75 amenities has been planned on either side of the expressway at 50-km intervals. The government is provisioning for the 8-lane configuration being expanded to 12 lanes in the future, with a design speed of 120 km/hr.
MORTH has estimated that about 320 million litres of fuel would be saved per annum because of the shorter alignment between the two cities. Assuming per litre CO2 emission of 2.68 kg, this would mean a reduction of 857 million kg of CO2 emissions every year. In comparative terms, more than 40 million trees would be required to absorb these emissions—with an average density of 80 trees per acre, the equivalent forest cover works out to around 200,000 hectare.
The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is being built as part of the first phase of the Bharatmala Pariyojana, under which 34,800 km of national highways are proposed to be built over five years starting 2017, at an estimated outlay of Rs 5,35,000 crore. Analysts, however, have said that the first phase would get delayed by at least two years, with ratings agency Icra holding that it would be completed only by 2025-26. The Bharatmala Pariyojana has been conceived to improve the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps.