NEW DELHI: By 2023 Diwali, people can travel by road from Delhi to Katra (Maa Vaishno Devi) via Amritsar in less than seven hours. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has floated bids for the first 160 km out of the 634-km greenfield expressway project, which will take off from the Kundli Manesar Palwal (KMP) near Bahadurgarh.
The four-lane expressway will be built with an investment of approximately Rs 35,000 crore. Union highways minister Nitin Gadkari has said the construction will start by December end.
The project has been planned in a manner that the expressway can be expanded to six-lane in future. “The four-lane plan has been approved considering the estimated traffic on this stretch. It is estimated that the daily traffic would be around 26,641 passenger car units (PCUs) after completion and the increase by 2026-27 is projected around 30,840 PCUs,” said an NHAI official.
Though the greenfield expressway will reduce the distance between Delhi and Katra by only 40 km, the total travel time will reduce drastically from the present almost 11 hours as the entire corridor will be signal free and cars will be allowed to run at 120 kmph. “One would be able to reach Amritsar from Delhi in 4 to 4.5 hours and Katra in 6 to 6.5 hours,” said the NHAI official.
The expressway project has been approved considering that the existing Delhi–Jalandhar section of NH-44, connecting the industrial and religious centres in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, which has been widened to six-lanes, is likely to breach its capacity by 2028. Widening of this corridor for improving the efficiency is not possible due to continuous ribbon development along the existing NH.
The expressway will provide shortest connectivity to important Sikh religious shrines at Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, Khadoor Sahib, Tarn Taran and the recently developed Dera Baba Nanak/ Kartarpur Sahib International corridor in Punjab.
Source said the NHAI will construct two cable stayed bridges of two lanes each on Beas river in Goindwal in Punjab, which is a dolphin sanctuary. “The two parallel cable-stayed bridges of 700 metres have been planned to ensure that the dolphin sanctuary is not affected at all. We have planned a viewing gallery which will be built by connecting the parallel bridges,” said another NHAI official.
Delhi-Amritsar-Katra is one of the six greenfield expressways identified for development under Bharatmala Pariyojna phase-I and has been included in the list of 22 greenfield corridors in the last budget announcement.