Lockdown: UP to restart work on key expressways, non-Covid emergency care

UPEIDA CEO Awanish Kumar Awasthi, who is also the UP additional chief secretary, suggested restarting structural civil work on these expressways.
With the coronavirus lockdown having been extended to May 3, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to restart work under stringent conditions on three big expressway projects totalling more than Rs 42,500 crore.

These projects include Purvanchal Expressway, Bundelkhand Expressway and Gorakhpur Link Expressway. The work on these mega infrastructure projects had come to a standstill last month following the lockdown to control the spread of the pandemic.

Yesterday, UP deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who also heads the committee tasked with preparing the roadmap for resuming stalled construction activities, had chaired a meeting with senior officials of the UP Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), UP State Highways Authority (UPSHA) and UP Public Works Department (PWD) in this regard.

UPEIDA CEO Awanish Kumar Awasthi, who is also the UP additional chief secretary, suggested restarting structural civil work on these expressways. The proposal was accepted by the committee and the work is expected to commence on Wednesday.

However, the construction agency would ensure adherence to the social distancing and sanitisation norms under the lockdown, especially with regard to labour and their work environment.

Purvanchal Expressway has been estimated to cost Rs 23,000 crore, while the Bundelkhand Expressway and Gorakhpur Link Expressway have been pegged to cost Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 4,600 crore respectively. All three projects have already been awarded to the respective concessionaries for construction under different packages.

Recently, the state had set up 11 committees, each headed by a cabinet minister, to draw the blueprint to tide over the economic and social challenges posed by the pandemic and the consequent lockdown. These committees pertain to industry, construction, revenue, labour, education, agriculture, social welfare, rural development, urban affairs, water and handicapped welfare.

Meanwhile, chief minister Adityanath today welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement on the extension of lockdown, saying it was an important step in the interest of public health and the future of 1.3 billion Indians.

“The state government will implement the lockdown across Uttar Pradesh with full force, so that the pandemic is decisively subdued,” Awasthi told the media in Lucknow this evening.

The state has decided to restart emergency medical care services for kidney, liver and heart ailments in private and public hospitals, while training doctors and healthcare staff to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

The UP Police have lodged 17,585 first information reports (FIRs) under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for defying the lockdown norms prescribed under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. Some 404 FIRs were also lodged under the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) against black marketing, hoarding and profiteering.

Besides, the state is taking action in fake news cases and so far several social media accounts on TikTok, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter have been blocked.

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