Highways of Progress: New Expressways to Benefit Major Cities of Punjab

by Manjari Singh

Punjab, known for its vibrant cities, is set to witness a significant transformation in its transportation infrastructure. The ambitious Bharatmala Pariyojna (BMP) is making remarkable progress in its efforts to decongest cities and enhance connectivity across the state. The project aims to develop over 1600 km of expressways, featuring four or six lanes, which are poised to revolutionize travel in Punjab. According to the project report, these transformative road projects have been strategically planned to reduce travel distances, increase speed, and even curtail fuel consumption.

Among the prestigious projects under the BMP, the Amritsar-Bathinda-Jamnagar expressway stands out. Spanning an impressive 917 km, this mega project will connect key cities within Punjab such as Amritsar, Kapurthala, Moga, and Bathinda. It will then extend its reach to other states like Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, covering prominent destinations like Sirsa, Jodhpur, and Jamnagar. With an estimated cost of 22,767 crores, the project has faced some hurdles, particularly at the Bathinda-Sirsa border villages. However, following an increase in compensation awards, protests have been temporarily suspended, allowing the project to move forward.

Another game-changing endeavor is the Mohali-Sirhind-Khanna bypass-Malerkotla-Barnala expressway, spanning a total of 108 km. This four-lane project, with the potential for future expansion to six lanes, promises to significantly reduce travel distances. The journey from Mohali to Barnala, which currently takes 2.5 hours, will be trimmed down to a mere 1.5 hours. Moreover, travel speeds are expected to soar from 60 kmph to 100 kmph, providing a seamless travel experience. This expressway aims to connect key economic centers in Barnala, Khanna, Mohali, and Ludhiana, as well as the textile cluster of Barnala.

In Bathinda, the Malaut-Mandi Dabwali bypass, classified as a greenfield expressway, stretches over 4.7 km. The acquisition of the entire stretch has been successfully completed, with compensation disbursed to affected individuals. Similarly, in Muktsar district, the town of Malaut is set to witness a 52 km four-lane expressway connecting Malaut-Abohar-Sadhuwali (Rajasthan). Compensation has been provided to farmers affected by the project, ensuring a smoother progress. Although some bottlenecks have been reported in Fazilka, the district administration is committed to resolving any issues that arise. Recent resolutions regarding compensation amounts in Kaller Khera and Abohar rural demonstrate their dedication. The remaining structures pending acquisition in Balluana are also being addressed, as the NHAI work progresses smoothly. In Khuiyan Server, compensation distribution is awaiting the completion of arbitration proceedings, with only 1.4 km of the 4.3 km stretch pending acquisition. Concerns raised by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) have been acknowledged, and the district administration has filed appeals to address the matter, awaiting a decision.

The city of Ludhiana is in for a remarkable transformation beyond the prestigious Delhi-Amritsar-Katra (DAK) expressway. Additional expressways are planned to pass through Ludhiana, including Ludhiana-Rupnagar package-1, Ludhiana-Rupnagar package-2, Ludhiana-Bathinda, and Ludhiana Southern Bypass. This extensive network of roads aims to decongest the city and shorten travel distances between various cities. Commencing in 2022, these projects are expected to be completed within three years. Tailored to the specific traffic density of the region, these expressways, along with seven bypasses, will divert traffic away from major cities like Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala, Malaut, Mandi Dabwali, and Phagwara. With their elevated positions, constructed 3-4 km above the ground, uninterrupted traffic flow is ensured.

Undoubtedly, these expressways hold the promise of alleviating traffic congestion, reducing travel distances, and increasing travel speeds. However, it is important to note that toll taxes will be imposed on these new projects, and their impact on commuters’ wallets remains to be seen. As Punjab prepares for this remarkable infrastructure upgrade, the future of transportation in the state is set to take a leap forward, benefiting residents and visitors alike.

Manjari Singh

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