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Ganga Expressway project put on hold

Written By mediavigil on Saturday, May 30, 2009 | 10:18 PM

Last year, Indian construction and engineering firm Jaiprakash Associates Limited had won rights to build two large expressways originating from Noida -- the 1,047 kms long Ganga Expressway to eastern Uttar Pradesh, and the 165 kms Yamuna Expressway across western UP. It was allotted this contract worth Rs 30,000-crore for constructing a Expressway, which was to pass through 17 districts along the bank of river Ganga. The Expressway promised to reduce travel time from Ballia to Noida to about 10 hours. As per company's alignment report, the Expressway is supposed to pass through Ballia, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Allahabad, Pratapgarh, Rae Bareli, Unnao, Kanpur, Hard-oi, Shahjahanpur, Farrukhabad, Etah, Badaun, Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida).

The company was supposed to deposit 10 per cent of the total land cost with the government — around Rs 400 crore — as compensation for the land owners. The company had said that so far it deposited around Rs 100 crore with the UP Expressway Industrial Development Authority. There was over 62,000 hectares of land to be acquired.

The project was supposed to come up on the north embankment of the river which is mostly fertile agricultural land, especially the area between Farrukhabad and Ballia.

Families which lose their homes were supposed to get 150 square metres in urban areas and 250 square metre in the rural area for free. The farmers were entitled to invest 10 per cent of their compensation in the form of shares in the developer’s company. But
the possibility of embankment induced flood and darainage crisis was
a great concern.

Gopal Krishna

Threat to Ganga diverted?

VARANASI: The directive of the Allahabad High Court on the ambitious Ganga
Expressway project is the victory of the Ganga itself, says Prof UP Choudhary, a
river scientist and head of the Ganga Research Centre, Institute of Technology,
Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

It may be mentioned here that the HC on Friday stopped the state government from
proceeding with the Ganga Expressway project, aimed at linking Noida to Ballia
in Eastern UP.

Chowdhary is among the first to have raised strong objections to the Ganga
Expressway on technical grounds, describing it as non-technical and unscientific
venture and disastrous to the river. Challenging the technicalities of the dream
project of the chief minister Mayawati, he had also written a letter to her with
a request to stop the execution of the project because it would prove fatal to
the holy Ganga.

In his letter (dated January 22,2008) he also attached a 12-point fact sheet of
few technical points in support of his claims. The expressway is supposed to
traverse along the concave and convex banks of the Ganga down the whole length.
Cities like Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and other towns and villages are
situated on its banks. Different tributaries also meet the river and the
expressway cannot prevent the floodwater from entering into cities. Hence, the
expressway is not a solution to floods, he points out.

According to Choudhary, the expressway would cut the watershed, which will cause
drainage path to deflect and will intensify the erosion of the top soil of the
basin. The effect of cutting of watershed on one side will cause increase in
pressure (depth of water) and on the other side, the seepage rate will enhance.
Due to this reason the erosion of concave bank will be intensified and the
lateral shifting of erosion may affect the expressway.

He says the proposed project also poses a threat to a large area of fertile
basin. The project will also affect the river course. The river course will
change due to the simultaneous occurrence of erosion and sedimentation and
enhancement of meandering of the river, he says and adds a river behaves
peculiarly on account of groundwater movement.

"It is only the river's morphological aspect while the socio-economic aspects
will have other implications like enhancement in pollution level in the river,"
Choudhary informed and added the Ganga, which was already facing a lot of
problems, would have to face other challenges if the project materialised.
Running of thousands of vehicles would release huge quantum of harmful gases and
they would enhance the temperature, thus increasing the rate of evaporation and
decreasing the quantity of water flow. It would further cause depletion in
dissolved oxygen (DO). "If the proposed expressway comes into existence, the
entire Ganga ecosystem will change," he warned.

30 May 2009
The Times of India
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