On August 9th, early morning as I was nearing Greater Noida, the whole expressway was blocked, cars were parked on the ‘expressway’ in a very haphazard manner. One cannot imagine anywhere in the world such an in-disciplined way of parking on an expressway, where traffic is permitted to move at 120Kmph! Very soon I realized as I approached the new fly-over (has been new for the last few months) that takes off the Greater Noida-Agra Yamuna expressway, as temporary pandals have been erected, festooned with flowers and flowing sheer fabrics. I got to know that our ‘beloved’ young CM of UP, Akhilesh Yadav, is going to inaugurate the expressway. I did see huge crowds with the cars parked all over the road, but the security was not as ‘z’ as it would be for a CM.
I realized the next day through the newspapers that our CM has gone Hi-tech, as he inaugurated the expressway virtually! Irony, the CM inaugurates with technology, but neither his brethren have basic courtesies of parking, nor the traffic policemen were mindful of their duties. Many times, the behaviour of traffic policemen makes me wonder whether they themselves are aware of the traffic rules and the regulations.
I read in the newspaper that the expressway is toll free till our Independence day, and I thought ‘why not we experience ‘the world class’ expressway. Indira and Mallika jumped at the idea, as they have been eager to go to Fatehpur Sikhri and visit the Dargah, where they sought for a sibling for Mallika two years ago. They wanted to pay respects on the arrival of Svwara, and untie the knots!
So, with the plan of quick visit to the TAJ, then heading to Fetehpur Sikhri, on August 11th, the saturday, early morning, we set on a drive. Our rath sarathi (driver), Vishal, was also very excited. We left around 9:00am and headed towards the expressway, and reached the entrance of the expressway after covering 30kms from home. We could see, many cars heading towards the entrance, where the cars were slowing down and realized that a pamphlet with the route map was being distributed. We just grabbed one and headed on the expressway.
Here is the photo-essay of that voyage!
Toll will be charged at three points – at 38 km, 95 km and 150 km from Greater Noida. Cars and jeeps will be charged Rs 2.10/km and mini-buses Rs 3.23/km as toll. Buses and Trucks will pay Rs. 6.60/km. Charges for heavy vehicles will be Rs. 10.10/km. However, NO-TOLL will be charged from commuters till 15 August 2012. A summary table of toll rates is as below:
|Vehicle Category||Aligarh||Mathura||Agra||Round Trip|
|7+ axle Vehicle||600||1400||2100||3360|
All figures in Rs.
- Round trip charges are 1.6 time of one way toll within 24 hours.
- Special discounts for vehicles using the expressway more than 19 times in a month.
Neither the users are eager to follow the rules of parking, courteous usage of the rest places, nor the YEIDA know how to manage it. With traffic flowing and the rest places flooded by people to release themselves, the upkeep of the rest places was very inadequate. There was no water in any of the three rest places, obviously supply lines fell short of the demand. The users were relieving themselves everywhere and the whole place was stinking! We just took to the wheels and decided to wait till we reach Agra!!
All the way, 200kms, you will not find any undercarriages that takes the traffic from one side to another. In India we do not believe in such easy movements! So what do you see, people coming in wrong directions with headlights on. What a comedy of infrastructure development. Abroad, you will find these every five kilometers facilitating the u-turns.
We reached the outskirts of Agra in two-and-half hours as the expressway joins the Agra-Kanpur highway. The merger towards Agra has not yet converged the way it should. So the challenges start there…
Is Agra ready for such an EXPRESSWAY to enter? No. Neither the JP nor the CMs that UP had during the course of the construction of the Express seem to have anything to gain from seeing beyond the Expressway….
If 180kms takes two-and-half hours to cover, the subsequent 5kms to Taj takes another two hours Here is why?
Along with a couple of policemen, and fellow users of the expressway, I jumped into managing the traffic at a junction. Then police reinforcement appeared. While now the police would take at least an hour to streamline, a person like me with a camera in hand, makes use of these hours capturing interesting stuff around by foot…
Finally, the junction is breathing a little and our vehicle also manages to come out of the jam… I hopped into the car and crossed the bridge over the Yamuna, only to find another Jam. When Indira asked a passenger in the bus standing next to us, “Brother, how far is Taj?”. He retorted, “By distance 1.5kms, by time 10days….hahaha”
So the Taj was elusive, as distant as it was….
Our time schedules having gone haywire, we quickly sped towards the Fatehpur Sikhri at 2pm, so that our appointment with the Chisthi Dargah is respected!
“The Yamuna Expressway has come as a curse for the citizens of Agra who are now being faced with perennial traffic jams lasting for 5-6 kilometers in the city, making the city’s already poor infrastructure crumble, since the Expressway opened for public last week.
About 25,000 vehicles are plying daily between Greater Noida and Agra, on the 165 kilometer highway, and the vehicle numbers increasing on the weekend stretching till the August 15, 2012” – The Economic Times, Aug 15, 2012
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