Jaypee lowest bidder for $10-billion Ganga Expressway


Lucknow : Leading infrastructure firm Jaypee Industries has emerged as the lowest bidder for the Rs.400-billion ($10 billion) Ganga expressway, slated to connect the eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh to the national capital and to the west of the state.

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The 1,000-km eight-lane expressway is the biggest single infrastructure project in the country, touted as the dream undertaking of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.

The foundation stone for the expressway will be laid Tuesday at a symbolic ceremony at Mayawati’s official residence here on her 52nd birthday.

Atul Kumar Gupta, the state’s industrial development commissioner, said: “Of the 15 leading companies short-listed after initial scrutiny, only five participated in the financial bids that were opened late Sunday evening.”

“Jaypee Industries offered the lowest bid, followed by Reliance Energy. The others like Gammon India, Unitech and Zoom Developers were far behind.”

Gupta, however, added: “The finalisation of the tender would be done by an empowered committee headed by the (state) chief secretary.”

The offers made by each of the five bidders would be sent to the empowered committee later Monday and the committee’s decision would be placed before the state cabinet at its meeting here Thursday.

Tenders for the mega project were sought for four equally split segments of the 1,000-km road.

Jaypee, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Energy and Gammon India offered bids not only separately for each segment but also for the entire expressway taken as a whole.

The proposed expressway is aimed at establishing a fast-track link between the eastern and western ends of the country’s most populous state.

The expressway is expected to bring down travel time between Varanasi in the east to Noida and New Delhi in the west to just about 10 hours. The journey currently takes about 20 hours to complete.

“The expressway would not only transform the so far untapped left bank of the Ganga river but would also generate large-scale economic activity in the industrial and commercial hubs to be developed along the route,” the state’s cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh had earlier told IANS.

To be built under a unique public-private partnership arrangement, the project would not add any financial burden on the state exchequer.

“The state will only act as a facilitator without any financial involvement in the project and the investor would be free to recover his money by developing industrial and commercial hubs at specified points along the expressway,” Singh pointed out.

“The investors would also be allowed to collect toll for 30 years,” he added.

Asked if the project would not entail problems relating to displacement of farmers, Singh said: “The chief minister is very particular about avoiding acquisition of agricultural land and every effort would be made to acquire only barren and non-agricultural land for the purpose.”

The unique part of the offer is to provide a shareholding to those whose land would be acquired for the purpose of building the expressway.

“Landowners would be given the liberty to convert up to 10 percent of the payable compensation towards their acquired land into shares of the company building the expressway,” Singh said.

The government has also prepared a handsome rehabilitation package. Those displaced on this account would be allotted residential plots measuring 150 sq metres in urban areas and 250 sq metres in rural areas.

In addition, they would also be entitled to 15 percent quota in allotment of flats and plots developed in industrial pockets to be developed along the expressway.

The offer package also includes payment of a monthly displacement allowance equivalent to the minimum wage for a period of one year from the date of displacement to each family.

This would be in addition to a lump sum payment of Rs.25,000 towards construction of an alternative work shed to each of them.

Another sum of Rs.10,000 would be paid towards the cost of shifting.