Eight fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) scorched the Agra-Lucknow Expressway in a grand opening ceremony of India's longest expressway, in an image booster to beleaguered Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Four Sukhoi jets flew down from Bareilly and four Mirage 2000s from Gwalior and descended on a stretch of the six-lane highway as chief minister Akhilesh Yadav inaugurated the 302-km expressway - his dream project.
A three-km long stretch on the expressway can double as runway and be used by jets for landing and take-off in an emergency.
The first fighter jet touched down on the expressway around 1 pm on Monday, amid applause, as it was opened to the public.
UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav along with his father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav inaugurated the country's longest 6-lane Greenfield Agra-Lucknow Expressway at Bangarmau in Unnao district on Monday.
The extensive 302 km Agra-Lucknow Expressway, built in a record 23 months, has a 3.3km space specifically set aside for fighter jet landings, according to a report published in NDTV.
The 302-km six-lane expressway, expandable to 8-lane, would start from Agra and reach Lucknow via Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Oraia, Kannauj, Hardoi, Kanpur Nagar and Unnao. It would reduce the travel time between Agra and Lucknow to three and half hours and further between Lucknow and Delhi to 5-6 hours, less than half the time it takes now and would also save the fuel consumption considerably, a state government spokesman said.
The state government plans to construct extra special farm mandis in Mainpuri and a smart city in Kannuaj. Besides, a logistic park and a film city are also proposed along the expressway.
The expressway will give a fillip to industries like agriculture, handicrafts, tourism and dairy farming, thereby increasing the job prospects in the 302-km stretch.