Agra, July 6 (IANS) Tender bids for the Agra-Lucknow Expressway in Uttar Pradesh are to open in Lucknow July 15, officials said Saturday.
The Malayasian Construction Industry Board, a consortium of industries, has evinced keen interest in the 285-km project, estimated to cost Rs.15,000 crore, officials said, adding that a team from that country had already met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Samajwadi Party sources in Agra said the UP chief minister is keen that the project be completed in record time. At the least, work should begin long before the countdown to the 2014 general elections.
The Samajwadi Party is pressing ahead with its own expressway project, despite earlier being critical of the 165-km Yamuna Expressway project, the dream project of former chief minister Mayawati.
The Yamuna Expressway, from Greater Noida to Chalesar in Agra, is now operated by the Jaypee Group.
The Agra-Lucknow Expressway, according to officials here, will be a model green project and will run through what is described as "Yadav-Land", from Firozabad to Kanpur.
It will connect the Yamuna Expressway in Agra on Firozabad road, touch the proposed international airport at Tundla and also connect to the proposed Sanjay Khan project of a theme park of seven cities.
Land-owners in the area are looking forward to dispose of their land and earn compensation at the same rates as the Yamuna Expressway farmers.
"Overnight, we will have hundreds of millionaires in the belt," says Tundla-based school teacher Subhash.
However, environmentalists in Agra have questioned the need for the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, as a national highway already exists. No studies have yet been conducted on the demand pressure or the need for a parallel expressway, environmentalists argue.
An Environmental Impact Assessment public hearing is yet to be held.
Shravan Kumar Singh of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society told IANS: "Thousands of hectares of agricultural land and hundreds of full-grown trees would be affected; there will be ecological damage and displacement of population. Already, this belt is heavily polluted because of the increasing number of vehicles on the roads, as a study by the Centre for Science and Environment revealed."