Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday announced development of a new connectivity to Amritsar from Nakodar via Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, Khadoor Sahib as part of Delhi-Amritsar Expressway, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the people of Punjab.
With this expressway, travel time from Amritsar to Delhi international airport would be reduced to about four hours from the present nearly eight hours, the road, transport and highways minister said adding that the first phase of expressway would involve investment of about Rs 25,000 crore.
“The proposed expressway will connect the holy cities of five gurus of Sikhism,” Gadkari said after finalising the alignment in a review meeting attended by Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and others.
The road from Amritsar to Gurdaspur will also be fully developed and made completely signal-free, Gadkari said, adding that the greenfield alignment will not only provide shortest and alternative express connectivity to Amritsar but also to other religious centres of Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, Khadoor Sahib as well as the recently developed Dera Baba Nanak/Kartarpur Sahib international corridor in Punjab.
With this, there will be two options to travel to Gurdaspur onwards from Nakodar, i.e. via Amritsar or via Kartarpur (Jalandhar district). With the new development, the alignment, which was finalised earlier and bypassed Amritsar district, will remain intact.
The ministry of road transport and highways said it has taken up development of the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway under Bharatmala Pariyojana. The alignment of the expressway was firmed up in January 2019 and the process of land acquisition was initiated. Recently, the issue of alignment of the expressway to Amritsar has been taken up by minister of food processing industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal, civil aviation and housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri with Gadkari, the ministry statement said.
In order to discuss and resolve issue of alignment to Amritsar, a video-conferencing was held with Gadkari which was attended by the Punjab CM, Harsimrat, Hardeep Singh Puri, union minister of state Jitender Singh, union minister of state Gen V K Singh (retd), Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik, Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla, former Punjab minister Anil Joshi, officials of the NHAI and other senior officers.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had initially proposed the Delhi-Katra Expressway. However, Gadkari had envisaged that the proposed expressway would pass through Amritsar looking at religious importance of the city, where over four million tourists visit every year, and hence conceived Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway under Bharatmala.
Union minister Jitendra Singh said project will be ready in three years and was likely to become functional by 2023. This will reduce the road travel time from Katra to Delhi to around six-and-half hours and from Jammu to Delhi to about six hours, he said in a statement.
The ministry statement reiterated that Amritsar was always an integral part of Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway. From beginning, the expressway was proposed as combination of greenfield and brownfield alignment in two phases. A completely new projects is termed greenfield project, whereas the projects which are modified or upgraded are called brownfield projects.
Gadkari also requested the Punjab government to provide requisite support to the NHAI to expedite land acquisition for the proposed expressway in the state.