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The central government with an aim to decongest Kolkata the state capital of West Bengal and to improve logistics efficiency in the state is gearing up to commence the work on four greenfield expressways worth Rs 1 lakh crore.
Any construction of a project on a new alignment can be categorized as a greenfield project. These projects generally pass-through new areas, wherein the per unit cost of land acquisition is generally less, considering less development in these areas.
The four proposed expressways in West Bengal are:
1. Kharagpur-Burdwan-Moregram Expressway
Starting from NH-16 near Kharagpur, this 230-km-long greenfield expressway ends at Morgram (NH-34 & NH-60 Junction) in the state of West Bengal.
This 4-lane expressway is part of the Kharagpur-Siliguri Economic Corridor being developed in West Bengal under Bharatmala Pariyojana. To be built into five packages, at an estimated cost of Rs 12,000 crore, the tender for the project is most likely to be floated by December 2022.
At present, the traffic that originates from Tamil Nadu and Odisha and is destined for north Bengal has to cross through Kolkata, leading to huge traffic snarls in the city as well as increased travel time by almost five hours.
Once the proposed expressway is operational there will be direct connectivity to Siliguri in north Bengal, and the ‘city of Joy’ will decongest.
2. Gorakhpur-Siliguri Expressway
With its starting point at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh to its end at Siliguri in West Bengal, this 519 km long greenfield expressway will run through Bihar.
Before entering the state of Monasteries, around 84 km of this four-lane expressway will pass through Gorakhpur, Deoria, and Kushinagar districts in Uttar Pradesh. It will pass through West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Supaul, Araria, and Kishanganj before reaching Siliguri.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has finalized the alignment for the expressway and the work tender for the project shall be awarded in the next year.
The expressway will be a direct link for outbound traffic from the Northeast region towards northern India including the national capital, Punjab and Haryana.
3. Varanasi-Kolkata Expressway
Planned under the Bharatmala Pariyojna (BMP) Phase-2, the 610-km-long greenfield expressway will provide high-speed connectivity to the northern and eastern regions of the country.
Beginning at the junction of NH-19 and Varanasi Ring Road, the access-controlled expressway passes through Bihar and Jharkhand, before terminating at NH-16 near Uluberia in the Howrah district in West Bengal.
The expressway covers a distance of 22 km in Uttar Pradesh, 159 km in Bihar, 187 km in Jharkhand, and 242 km in West Bengal.
Covering 644 km between Varanasi and Kolkata at present takes at least 12 to 13 hours via NH-2 (Golden Quadrilateral Road). Once the Varanasi-Kolkata expressway running parallel to NH-2 is operational, it will reduce the travel time by 7-8 hours.
The work on this project is to begin in January 2023, as the work order will be allotted by next month.
4. Raxaul-Haldia Expressway
The 700-km-long greenfield expressway starts at Raxaul on the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar and terminates near Haldia port in West Bengal.
Passing through Jharkhand, the expressway will cross Asansol, Durgapur, and West Midnapore districts in West Bengal, and will be connected to Kolkata.
The Rs 35,000 crore project will criss-cross Kharagpur-Burdwan-Moregram and Varanasi-Kolkata expressways, near Ramjivanpur village in West Midnapore district, thereby providing seamless interchange across all three expressways.
The four greenfield expressways, once ready, will facilitate direct and indirect employment to lakhs of people and will change the physical face of West Bengal.
These expressways will unlock the state’s potential and kickstart the industrial development of the state.