The 165 kilometre, six-lane Yamuna Expressway, which will drastically cut down the travel time between Delhi and Agra, has become the favourite of enthusiastic riders and speedsters even before its official opening.
Though the expressway's construction is complete, it awaits a nod from the new Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government, probably because it was conceived by the previous Mayawati government that built it at an estimated cost of Rs 11000 crore ($ 2 bn). Abutting the river Yamuna, it will reduce travel time between Greater Noida and Agra by about 90 minutes.
"I covered the distance from Buddh circuit (Greater Noida) to Kuberpur crossing on Firozabad road in Agra in 70 minutes," said Rohit, a speed-crazy youth who drove in his Tata Innova. A motorcycle rider, Pipindra Powar, clocked 90 minutes to cover the stretch.
To access the expressway, some speed junkies also pay "tips" to security men at the entry points.
Agra resident Sudheir says that he recently zipped through to Delhi to see the facilities on the corridor. It took him about two hours to reach near the Buddh International Circuit.
"We started at 7 am from the Agra Fort crossing...our driver maintained a steady speed of 80-100 kilometre per hour, with brief stops at the four toll plazas. We were stopped by the security guards but later allowed...We reached the Greater Noida intersection, close to the Buddh circuit, at 9 am," Sudheir told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS). He said that the drive was comfortable all through.
He said that the problem started after entering Delhi due to city traffic. "..We headed for the Indira Gandhi International Airport, via Kalindi Kunj and the Ashram flyover. By the time we reached the terminal building, it was 10.50 am"
Sharing his experience, Sudheir said: "The elevated road provided a panoramic view of the surroundings. We could see herds of blue bulls (Neel Gai) sitting in the shade far away. The fencing was in progress... Work on amenities at the toll plazas was nearing completion. To me it looked as if we are pointlessly holding up its opening."
A retired engineer, SP Singh, said: "The Expressway was designed for Greater Noida and Ghaziabad, not for the Delhi airport or the tourists who in any case would prefer to land directly in Agra once the new airport comes up."
The existing national highway Number 2 that connects Delhi with Agra is already being upgraded by the Reliance group.
Hotelier Surendra Sharma told IANS: "The Uttar Pradesh government at the moment is more serious about starting work on a new airport either in Mathura or Agra. Simultaneously they have started exploring the feasibility of a Pavan Hans helicopter service between Delhi, Mathura and Agra."