If all goes well, a late-evening drive from Delhi three years from now could “land” you in Kolkata for lunch the next day.
The promise of such a “flight-like” cruise comes from the proposed Varanasi-Kolkata greenfield expressway that would make a Delhi-Kolkata trip possible in 17 hours. It takes several hours more now. The Delhi-Varanasi journey has already become possible in a little over 10 hours via the Purvanchal, Lucknow-Agra and Yamuna expressways.
Officials said the Rs 3,000-crore Varanasi-Kolkata expressway is expected to be ready by 2026. Once ready, it is likely to reduce the travel time between the cities to 6-7 hours. The alignment of the proposed expressway was finalised and approved at a meeting in September 2021 led by the Union road transport and highways secretary to connect key cities through the highway and its spurs to save time and costs.
The proposed expressway will pass through Mohania, Rohtas, Sasaram, Aurangabad, Gaya, Chatra, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Ramgarh, Purulia, Bankura, Paschim Medinipur, Hooghly and Howrah. Divisional commissioner Kaushal Raj Sharma said initial demarcation of land for the expressway has been done in Chandauli, near Varanasi, but a detailed project report is awaited.The Chandauli DM has been asked to complete this at the earliest.
Currently, most traffic between Varanasi and Kolkata is through NH-19 (old NH-2), part of the Golden Quadrilateral. Most of NH-19 is six-lane, with many four-lane stretches.
According to NHAI, the access-controlled expressway from Varanasi to Kolkata will start from Varanasi Ring Road in Chandauli district and meet NH-16 near Uluberia in Bengal’s Howrah district.