The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) is the largest express highway project in India launched by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is the first phase of the National Highways Development Project (NHDP), and consists of building 5,846 kilometres of four/six lane express highways connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai (thus forming a quadrilateral of sorts), at a cost of Rs. 60,000 crores (US$ 12.317 billion) (at 1999 prices) (Rs 580 billion). The highway is designed to be an express highway for higher-speed traffic, yet the vast majority of the road is not an expressway since the road is not controlled-access for the vast majority of its route, and so it is better considered as a dual carriageway. On-ramps, off-ramps, and exits are largely absent except in certain areas, although safety features such as guardrails, shoulders, and high-visibility signs are used. The National Highways Authority of India has produced statistics to indicate that, as of September 2007, 96% of the entire work has been completed. However, these statistics appear to be misleading: in practice, roadworks are still a major feature of certain sections of the Golden Quadrilateral. For example, the statistics indicate that the Delhi to Mumbai section is 100% complete, whereas in reality there are a number of sections which are still single carriageway and in very poor repair (for example the stretch to Ahmadabad in Gujarat). The whole project is a few years behind schedule, due mainly to issues with the various states about giving up land for the national highway and the termination of several contracts which take 6 months to be issued. In January, 2008 it was announced that the project will now be expanded to cover 6,500 kilometers, some portions of which will be developed into eight lanes.
The GQ project is managed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) under the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the first controlled-access toll road to be built in India is a part of the GQ Project though not funded by NHAI. Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) has been one of the major contributors to the infrastructural development activity in the GQ project.
The project involves an enormous outlay of funds and has been the focus of several charges of corruption. In August 2003, project director Satyendra Dubey, in a letter to the Prime Minister, outlined a list of malafide actions in a segment of this highway in Bihar. Dubey claimed that the contractors for this stretch were not executing the project themselves, but had sub-contracted the work to small builders who lacked technical expertise. This would lead to substandard work, he claimed. Within months of this whistleblowing action, Dubey was brutally assassinated in Gaya, Bihar. It is not clear that any action was taken by NHAI on the more germane issues raised by Dubey.
In February 2006, a 600 meter stretch of the highway connecting Kolkata to Chennai subsided into the ground, opening up ten meter gorges near Bally, West Bengal 2 This stretch had been completed a year back by a Malaysian multinational firm, selected after global tendering.
|No.||Route||National Highway No.||Length Completed (km)||Total Length (km)||Percent Completed (%)||As of (date)|
|1.||Delhi-Kolkata||NH-2||1419||1453||97.66||2 Jun 2008|
|2.||Kolkata-Chennai||NH-5||1578||1684||93.70||2 Jun 2008|
|3.||Chennai-Mumbai||NH-4 / 7 / 46||1253||1290||97.13||2 Jun 2008|
|4.||Mumbai-Delhi||NH-8 / 76 / 79||1419||1419||100||Nov 2006|
|5.||TOTAL G.Q||-||5669||5846||97.12||2 Jun 2008|
Song of the road ; The construction of the Golden Quadrilateral is complete, but for just 40 km. N. Madhavan and photographer Nishikant Gamre take a ride in a truck from Chennai to Mumbai to check it out.
May 01, 2011; Friday, 11 p.m. A 16-tonne, single-axle Tata truck is ready to depart from the Central Warehousing Corporation's container...