New Delhi

The government is spending Rs 7 lakh crore on building green express highways through modern technology which in turn would provide smart transportation and reduce pollution, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday.

Of these, Rs 1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is likely to be completed within a year while Delhi-Meerut Expressway will be inaugurated in a month or two, the Road Transport and Highways Minister said while addressing a virtual event organized by Ph.D. Chamber of Commerce here.

''We are spending Rs 7 lakh crore on building green express highways. These…will reduce air pollution, traffic jam and minimize logistics and transportation costs,'' he said at the National Roads & Highways Summit ''Focus on Green Infrastructure''.

He said these are being built with state-of-the-art technology with advanced engineering to provide intelligent traffic while taking care of ecology and environment conservation to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The Prime Minister has set a target of Rs 111 lakh crore under the National Infrastructure Pipeline and it would be the government's effort to adopt a green approach and ''development without destruction,'' the minister said.

Of the 22 green highway corridors, Delhi-Mumbai Expressway on a new alignment would reduce the travel time between both the metropolises to 12 hours by car in comparison to 40 hours at present, he said.

''Sixty percent of this 1,300 km project has been completed and we are trying to complete it within one year,'' the minister said adding that the first phase of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway project will have 8 lanes while the second phase will have 12.

A separate electric highway lane will be constructed in it, he said, and added that within a year electric trucks will be available.

Gadkari said work on the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra project is likely to start in two to three months and the pipeline is Rs 4,063 crore Delhi-Faridabad-Sohna expresses highway and Rs 4,000 crore Ahmedabad-Dholera highway.

As far as Delhi is concerned, Gadkari said projects worth Rs 60,000 crore are being implemented to reduce air pollution in the national capital and said Rs 10,000 crore Dwarka-Express Highway is an ''engineering marvel''.

He said 50 percent of work has been completed on the 30 km project that has one tunnel and flyovers.

Urban Extension Road-II (EUR-II) project for Delhi has also been cleared, Gadkari said.

''Delhi-Meerut expressway will be inaugurated in next one to two months and it will reduce the travel time to Meerut from Delhi to 45 minutes from the present 4 hours,'' Gadkari said.

The minister said with the completion of the Delhi-Saharanpur-Dehradun project, the travel time between Delhi and Dehradun will reduce to two hours, and ''it is a promise, not a declaration.''.

Projects will also ensure Delhi to Chandigarh in 2 hours and Delhi to Haridwar in 2 hours, he said.

The minister said the Rs 12,000 crore Chardham project to provide all-weather connectivity to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath is nearing completion and will boost tourism in Uttarakhand.

Also, priority will be given to the Rs 12,000 crore Raipur-Visakhapatnam project and Rs 10,000 crore Bengaluru Ring Road project besides Surat-Ahmedabad, Durg-Raipur, Chennai-Salem projects.

The minister exuded confidence that the national highways' building pace will reach 40-km a day by March-end.

He said the ministry has already exceeded the target for building 11,000 km of highways in the current fiscal year and to date it has constructed 12,205 km which translates into 34-km a day.

Also, he said the Centre has signed a USD 500 million contract with the World Bank for constructing safe and green corridors in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

He also warned the cement and steel industry to not indulge in cartelization and said that he was ''not happy with the attitude of steel and cement industry''.

He noted that emphasis was being laid on using innovative materials like jute, coir, plastic, rubber, and other material.

Asserting that toll income was likely to reach Rs 1,34,000 crore in the next three to four years, he said Rs 10,000 crore was lost due to COVID-19 but by March-end, toll collection was likely to reach Rs 31,000 crore.

He said as part of automation, GPS-based tolling is being planned where toll collection will be done based on actual distance traversed by the vehicle through GPS.

Smart vehicle tracking system is on the anvil, the minister said.