Unnao: In a first of its kind, Indian Air Force fighter jets touched down on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway on Monday in Uttar Pradesh as part of the grand opening of India's longest expressway.
The six-lane 302-km long expressway connecting the city of Taj Mahal with state capital Lucknow was inaugurated by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Four Sukhoi jets from Bareilly and four Mirage 2000s from Gwalior performed simulated landings on the Expressway at Unnao, around 50 km from Lucknow, as a host of IAF officers, politicians and commoners watched in awe.
A pet project of the Chief Minister, the Expressway has been constructed by the
Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA).
Speaking on the occasion, Akhilesh thanked the IAF for the grand show and said the expressway will be opened for public soon.
According to the Uttar Pradesh government, the expressway will help cut down the time between Agra and Lucknow to just 3.5 hours, from the current seven hours.
The expressway is also expected the reduce the road travel time between Delhi and Lucknow to between 5 to 6 hours.
An official connected with the project said the Expressway is fully equipped with advanced traffic management systems that take care of foggy conditions too.
The state government claimed the Expressway had created a national record of laying a 302 greenfield expressway in just 23 months. The six lanes can be later expanded to eight.
Eight bridges on Ganges and Yamuna, four railway overbridges and provision of 3.3 km runway for landing of Indian Air Force fighter planes are unique features of the project.
The journey time between Agra and Lucknow has been reduced from 8 to 9 hours to just 4 to 5 hours now. The road joins the Yamuna Expressway in Agra.
Agra citizens rejoiced on the opening of the six-lane Expressway, that the state government has claimed will bring Taj Ganj nearer to Hazrat Ganj.
A few stretches of the mega project are still to be completed but the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was keen to present a birthday gift to his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose birthday is being celebrated by party workers on Monday.
The formal opening ceremony was held at Khamboli, near RS Chauraha Bangarmau in Unnao district.
A few days ago the CEO of the project Navneet Sehgal was seriously injured alongwith a journalist and some staffers, when he visited the site. Sehgal is in Medanta Hospital presently.
The new expressway did not face many legal hassles like the Mayawati project, Yamuna Expressway, as land was purchased from 30,000 farmers under amicable agreements and market terms, an official said.