This handout photograph taken by India's Press Information Bureau (PIB) on May 27, 2018 shows India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi waving from atop a car during the inauguration of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, in Delhi. / AFP PHOTO / PIB / Handout / RESTRICTED "AFP PHOTO / PIB"
This handout photograph taken by India's Press Information Bureau (PIB) on May 27, 2018 shows India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi waving from atop a car during the inauguration of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, in Delhi. / AFP PHOTO / PIB / Handout / RESTRICTED "AFP PHOTO / PIB"

New Delhi: A day before the crucial by-election in Kairana, PM Modi was in its backyard, addressing a public meeting in Baghpat at the inauguration of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway. Immediately, questions were raised about the timing of the inauguration and his address in which the PM dwelt on key issues affecting the area, including sugarcane prices. However, the EC overruled the objections and Modi kicked of the first day of his fifth year in power with inauguration of the two unfinished expressways in and around Delhi. This is just the first phase of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway which is 96 km long.

However, what PM Modi inaugurated was just a 9-km long road completed so far in the capital; the actual expressway will be ready in 2020. After the road show, he took a helicopter ride with Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari to launch the 135-km eastern peripheral expressway for signal free travel that will allow vehicles to pass through Palwal, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida) and Ghaziabad without entering Delhi.

This peripheral road is still incomplete as a major rail overbridge on the Haryana-Uttar Pradesh border is still under construction while some civil works are yet to be completed. The overbridge may be ready in another seven to ten days at the minimum. The excuse to rush with its inauguration is the Supreme Court’s order on May 10 to throw it open for traffic on May 31 and not to keep it hanging just because the PM did not have the time to open it. Of course, once complete, the Rs. 7,500-crore, 14-lane Delhi-Meerut Expressway will cut down the travel time between the two cities to 40 minutes from the current two-and-half-hours. The Rs.11000-crore Eastern Peripheral Expressway, India’s first smart and green highway, in turn, will help around 50,000 vehicles travelling up to Jammu and Kashmir, to skirt Delhi.

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