Akhilesh Yadav’s pet project, the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, is all set for its big-bang inauguration on November 21. The project is the Uttar Pradesh CM’s pitch to state voters that his government is focused on development. The 302-km expressway will be operational by December this year. It has been completed in a record time of 22 months. However, unlike other expressway inaugurations, this one is special for a reason. According to a report in HT, as many as 11 Indian Air Force (IAF) jets are likely to land and take-off from the Agra-Lucknow Expressway on November 21.
The exercise is aimed at testing the quality of build of the expressway, and would also go a long way in aiding the Defence Ministry’s plan to use highways and expressways as possible landing and take-off strips. The report added that the jets will land and take-ff one after the other, releasing tri-coloured smoke. The stretch that has been chosen for this exercise is reportedly 3 kilometers long, and will fall between Bangarmau and Ganj-Moradabad. It is yet unclear which fighter jets of the IAF will participate in the exercise.
Last year, an IAF Mirage 2000 had landed successfully on the Yamuna Expressway in Uttar Pradesh. The landing was the first of its kind for India and IAF had said that such landings can be carried out in emergencies if an active airport is not available under “certain circumstances”. Facilities like make-shift Air Traffic Control, safety services, rescue vehicles, bird clearance parties and other requirements were set up by IAF personnel from Air Force Station Agra.
Meanwhile, the government is looking to build highways across the country that can also serve as landing strips or runways for aircraft, both civil and military. Road and Transport minister Nitin Gadkari has spoken of the government’s plan to come up with an ‘airport’, in which the highway can be used both by vehicles and aeroplanes. The ‘airport’ is reportedly being built in Rajasthan.
Nitin Gadkari has also said, “Along with defence ministry, we are thinking of a proposal. We are making our national highways of cement and concrete. We can use them as airports and are identifying sites. The vehicular traffic will be stopped when an aircraft will be landing and once it leaves, the vehicle traffic will resume.”