Landfall of another kind
As a stretch of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway simply caved in near the Taj city, causing a vehicle carrying four passengers to fall into a 20-feet ditch, it became a black spot on what was former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav’s dream project and a shining example of his “performing” tenure. More so, because it was touted as being built with the best structural methodologies, rainwater management and specially created bitumen. Yes, you could blame the heavy rains but as India goes through an infrastructural overhaul through a ring of highways, mainland and coastal, structural integrity should be prioritised and justify the expenses. From the cavernous photographs, it is apparent that the abutmets weren’t strong enough to withstand the water pressure that pried open the underlying layers of earth, clearly a failure of soil-testing methods, reinforcement and seasoning.
And if the water gushed in with such force, then it means the drainage channels, flow gradient and piped network were all wrong. If one is to leave a legacy, then one must ensure that the product is worth the years of toil and money. Clearly the expressway was hurriedly completed without a thorough review to establish a talking point for the UP polls in 2017. The Eastern Peripheral Expressway, too, has incomplete stretches and though the court mandated its opening before time, the question is whether we should allow proper incubation time before risking the lives of motorists. Just for the record, the 302-km Agra-Lucknow expressway, cost nearly Rs 15,000 crore and was completed in a record 23 months. Touted as the country’s longest access-controlled greenfield expressway on which IAF fighter jets could land and take off in case of an emergency and which could keep a glass of water in a high-speed SUV without spilling it, the landslip and an SUV stuck in a cleft of the sub-soil are indeed quite an embarrassment.
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