New Delhi, November 14: The government on Tuesday said that first package of the NH 24 project stretching from Akshardham Temple to Delhi-UP border will be ready by December this year.  The Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation  Nitin Gadkari reiterated the Government’s commitment for speedy completion of highways projects in Delhi NCR  in order to decongest the region and cut down vehicular pollution levels by nearly 50 percent. Gadkari said that projects worth Rs 40,000 crore are being undertaken to decongest Delhi. These include plans for Dhaula Kuan stretch, Dwarka Expressway and a Ring Road for Delhi the cost for which will be borne jointly by the Centre and Delhi Government.

 Briefing media persons near Akshardham temple, Gadkari said the 9 km, 14 lane highway is being completed in a record time of 14 months as against the earlier expected construction period of 30 months. He said this is also the first national highway in the country with 14 lanes and has several features that would help reduce pollution. These include a 2.5-metre wide cycle track on either side of the highway, a vertical garden on the Yamuna Bridge, solar lighting system and watering of plants through drip irrigation only. “This highway will be developed further up to Lucknow and will be a lifeline for the people of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The highway will also reduce traffic congestion on the Delhi – Meerut route, which in turn will lower the pollution levels in the region, he said.

 Gadkari further said that work on the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways around Delhi is also going on at full speed, and the former is likely to be ready before 26th of January next year. Once the NH-24 and the two peripheral expressways are ready, vehicles destined for neighbouring states will be able to bypass Delhi and this will reduce pollution by 50 percent. Apart from the speedy construction of highways, the Ministry is also taking other steps to check pollution arising from the highways sector.

These include actively promoting the use of biofuel-driven vehicles and electric vehicles, greening of highways, covering construction sites to contain dust and promoting the use of waterways. He added that tenders have been issued for dredging of river Yamuna and linking Delhi and Agra through waterways. Emphasizing that ecology, economy and development should go side by side, Gadkari said that these projects will pave the way for development, employment generation, cleaner atmosphere and hassle-free travel for people.