Mamata sits on dharna against EC's campaign ban, paints in silent protest
KOLKATA, April 13: An uncommon calm prevailed around West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today as she sat in her wheelchair at the Gandhi Murti in Kolkata in protest against her being banned from campaigning for 24 hours. Amid the hullabaloo of the buzzing city, the otherwise feisty leader spent some silent hours practicing her brush strokes.
Clad in her trademark white cotton sari with a black border, she also wrapped a black scarf around her neck, seemingly as a mark of protest. Then there was the black mask, too.
She arrived at Mayo Road, where the Gandhi stature is located, around 11.40 am and began her sit-in. The Trinamool leader was left alone, with not even party colleagues joining her.
Barricaded from the media, a canopy was raised for her dharna in protest against the Election Commission's decision to impose the ban on her from 8 pm on April 12 till 8 pm on April 13.
A few glances and some head nods are all that she had for media persons standing many feet away. To placate a persistent few, she held up some of her paintings. And then there was silence again.
The poll panel on Monday banned her from campaigning for allegedly making "highly insinuating and provocative remarks laden with the serious potential of the breakdown of law and order and, thereby affecting the election process".
The ban comes in the run up to the fifth phase of Assembly polls in the state on April 17. The Election Commission's move was a "black day for democracy" by her party colleague Derek O'Brien.
"They cannot beat us, that is why they ban us," the Trinamool MP tweeted yesterday, referring to the Election Commission as "Extremely Compromised".
Leaders of other political parties, too, strongly reacted against the poll body's action. Abhijit Banerjee of the Congress said, "Banning Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for the next 24 hours while ignoring hate speeches of BJP leaders is nothing but a naked display of favouritism by the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora."
NCP leader Nawab Malik said the Election Commission's decision appeared to be politically motivated.
The fifth and sixth phases of the West Bengal Assembly polls will take place on April 17 and April 22.
Mamata Banerjee Banned From Campaigning For 24 Hours
NEW DELHI, April 12: Mamata Banerjee was banned from campaigning in Bengal for 24 hours this evening over speeches that the Election Commission said violated the poll code. The Chief Minister was accused of breaking the law with her comments on Muslim votes and for allegedly urging voters to revolt against central security forces.
Mamata Banerjee announced a sit-in protest against the ban. "To protest against the undemocratic and unconstitutional decision of the Election Commission of India, I will sit on dharna tomorrow at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata from 12 noon," she tweeted.
The ban till 8 pm on Tuesday - outgoing Election Commissioner Sunil Arora's final order - comes half-way through the Bengal election, with four more rounds of voting left in an intense campaign pitting Mamata Banerjee against a galaxy of BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Bengal Chief Minister, 66, had been served two notices last week by the Election Commission, which said her replies to them betrayed "selective amnesia".
She was asked to explain her speeches on March 28 and April 7, allegedly accusing central forces of intimidating voters and urging women to hit back or surround the security personnel.
"Who gave so much power to them that the central police are threatening the women without allowing them to cast their votes? I saw the same thing in 2019, I saw the same thing in 2016," she said during the March rally.
"I know under whose instruction they beat up people and how they beat up. It is your duty to save the families of the people. If any of our mothers and sisters suffer a single strike with the stick, attack them with ladles, spuds and knife. I am telling you. It is the right of women. And if any of our mothers and sisters are denied entry in the voting compartment all of you come out and revolt," she allegedly said.
In Cooch Behar, she made "highly objectionable remarks" on the Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF), said the election body.
"If the CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) create disturbances, I tell you ladies, a group of you go and restrain (gherao) them while another group will go to cast their votes. Don't waste your vote. If you engage yourself only in restraining them they will be happy that you did not cast your vote. This is their plan. This is the plan of the BJP. And your plan will be that you will not be scared if they try to intimidate you coming to your village on the one hand, and on the other you just talk to them," the Chief Minister said.
The Election Commission called these "false, provocative and intemperate statements" that "vilified" central forces and had caused "extreme demoralisation" in their ranks.
In another notice, the Chief Minister was accused of "openly demanding votes on communal grounds".
"... I am requesting my minority brothers and sisters with folded hands... don't divide the minority votes after listening to the devil... who had taken money from the BJP... He passes many communal statements and initiates clashes between Hindus and Muslims... comrades of the CPM and BIP is roaming around with money given by BJP to divide the minority votes," Ms Banerjee had said while campaigning in Hooghly district on April 3.
Her response to both the notices were defiant.
Modi Ji, Stop This Eventbaazi. Vaccinate All Who Need It: Rahul Gandhi
NEW DELHI, April 12: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "stop holding events" and, instead, take steps to vaccinate everyone in the wake of the ferocious second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the country. He also sought financial help for the poor to tide over the prevailing economic conditions.
In a video message posted on Twitter today, he reminded the Prime Minister of his promise to win the battle against the pandemic in 18 days.
"You got bells rung, thaalis banged, mobile-phone torches lit. Corona kept moving ahead. Now it is the second wave. And lakhs of people have turned victims of the disease," Mr Gandhi said in the message.
"Now end this eventbaazi (propensity to hold events). Provide vaccines to those who need them. Stop exporting vaccines. And provide income support to our poor brothers and sisters. Thank you," he said.
The tweet accompanying the video carried a similar message saying the battle against "couldn't be won even after 385 days".
Gandhi's message came on a day India saw the highest ever fresh number of Covid-19 cases being registered across the country at 1,68,912 and 904 pandemic-related deaths. The cumulative figure for the country now stands at 1,35,27,717 infections and 1,70,179 fatalities since Covid-19 hit India in January 2020.
The video message also comes days after Modi reportedly suggested the holding of a "Tika Festival" ("Injection Festival") to bump up vaccination numbers, even though several states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have shut down vaccination centres due to a lack of stocks.
A furious debate has also been raging over opening up of vaccination to all sections of the society instead of sticking to the limit set by the Central government of 45 years-or-more.
A spate of state elections and festivities have only exacerbated the situation with Covid-19 protocols barely being followed amid mass gatherings.
Delhi Announces Strict New Covid Curbs On Restaurants, Theatres, Travel
NEW DELHI, April 10: The Delhi government on Saturday announced new restrictions amid an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, banning most public gatherings and setting limits for attendance at restaurants, theatres, on public transport and functions like weddings and funerals.
The new rules which will stay in place till April 30, along with the earlier announced 10-pm-to-5-am night curfew, include a ban on all types of social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural and religious gatherings in Delhi.
Only 50 people will be allowed to attend weddings and not more than 20 at funerals.
Restaurants, bars and cinemas will operate at 50 per cent of their seating capacity.
Buses and metros will also take only half as many people as they can seat.
All swimming pools except those where sportspersons are training for national and international events will be closed.
Stadiums can hold sports events but without spectators.
Schools and colleges were already asked to close down earlier this week.
Government offices will work at 50 per cent capacity as well except for high-level Grade 1 officers.
However, the health department, police, home guard civil defence, fire and emergency services and district administrations will continue to work without any restrictions.
Private companies have been advised to call their employees at staggered timings to avoid crowding. Work from home should be encouraged as much as possible.
All passengers coming from Maharashtra, the worst-affected state, by plane will have to show a negative RT-PCR test report, not older than 72 hours, for entering Delhi.
Those who come from Maharashtra without a negative test report will be quarantined for 14 days. People linked to government work will be exempted.
The announcements come hours after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ruled out the possibility of a lockdown but said that new restrictions will be implemented soon.
Delhi reported 7,897 new coronavirus cases and 39 deaths in the last 24 hours on Saturday, taking its overall tally to over 7.1 lakh.
On Friday, the city had reported over 8,500 new infections in the year's biggest one-day spike.
India's daily coronavirus cases on Saturday rose by a record for the fifth time this week and deaths surged to the highest in more than five months, with hospitals and crematoriums overflowing in parts of the country.
New cases in the world's second-most populous country have totalled the most of anywhere in the world over the last two weeks. India's overall tally of 1.32 crore is the third-highest globally, just shy of Brazil and below the worst affected country, the United States.
The second surge in infections, which has spread much more rapidly than the first one that peaked in September, has forced many states to impose fresh curbs but Prime Minister Narendra Modi not ordered national lockdown given the high economic costs.
Politicians Banned In Bengal District After Clashes, Phase 5 Campaign Cut
NEW DELHI, April 10: No politician can enter West Bengal's Cooch Behar district for the next three days, the Election Commission has said following Saturday's violence in which four people died.
The "silence period" for the next phase of voting in the state, the fifth phase which is on April 17, too has been extended to 72 hours from 48 hours, thus cutting the campaign period.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that she will, on Sunday, visit the area where the clashes broke out, while the Trinamool Congress had planned to organise black-badge protests across the state to mark the incident.
Apart from this, the special general observer, the special police observer as well as the Chief Electoral Officer of Bengal have been asked to keep the Election Commission informed of the ground developments in Cooch Behar for the next 72 hours.
"Election Commission has covered itself with mud by stopping Mamata from going to Cooch Behar. After all she is still the CM of Bengal and it is her duty to visit the place of this unfortunate occurrence. We know for certain now that EC is not fair," tweeted Yashwant Singha, who joined the Trinamool Congress last month.
Clashes took place outside a polling station in Cooch Behar after a local mob attacked security forces over a misunderstanding, the Election Commission said earlier on Saturday, adding that the Central Industrial Security Force, or CISF, personnel had to open fire to "save their lives and government property like EVMs".
The election panel said the misunderstanding began when the central security forces were trying to help a sick boy near the polling booth in Sitalkuchi early Saturday morning, when some locals thought the boy was beaten up by personnel, and assembled nearly 300-350 villagers.
"Due to the misunderstanding, the agitated mob attacked the CISF personnel detailed at the booth with deadly equipment and some of them even tried to snatch their arms and ammunitions," it said.
The Election Commission ordered stopping the voting exercise at the polling station of the Sitalkuchi constituency where the incident happened when polling was on.
The incident trigged a war of words between Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and rival BJP.
Earlier in the day, at another booth, an 18-year-old first-time voter was killed allegedly after he was shot. The incident took place at booth number 295 at Pathantuli constituency.
While the Trinamool chief called it a "planned attack" and accused the central forces of "murder", demanding Union Home Minister Amit Shah's resignation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed her and her party.
Ms Banerjee also said Bengal Police CID (Crime Investigation Department) would conduct a probe.
5 terrorists gunned down in separate encounters in J&K
SRINAGAR, April 9: Five terrorists were eliminated by security forces in two separate encounters in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. In Tral area of Awantipora, two terrorists were gunned by the security forces. "The operation is still underway," said the Inspector-General of Police.
The encounter began at around 8am at Nowbugh. The area has been cordoned off by the security officials.
In Shopian district, where security forces are engaged in a fierce gun battle with terrorists for more than 12 hours now, three terrorists have been killed.
Chief of proscribed terrorist outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (JeM) is among the terrorists in the Shopian district. However, as the identity has not yet been ascertained of deceased terrorists, it is not known if he is still inside the mosque.
The encounter between security forces and terrorists started in Shopian on Thursday where terrorists are holed up inside a mosque. According to a report, the Jammu and Kashmir Police last night sent the brother of one terrorist and a local Imam inside the mosque to persuade the terrorists to surrender.
Rahul Gandhi Attacks Government On Rafale Jet Deal, Talks About 'Karma'
NEW DELHI, April 6: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today slammed the government over the Rafale fighter jet deal, saying karma is the ledger of one's action and no one can escape it.
He said this after a French media report claimed that 1.1 million Euros was paid to a "middleman" by the aircraft manufacturer, a charge that was denied by the BJP as baseless.
Rahul Gandhi has been alleging that commissions have been paid in the Rafale deal, which the government has denied.
The Congress said Rahul Gandhi's often repeated allegations of corruption in the deal were proved correct after the French media report.
"Karma = The ledger of one's actions. Nobody escapes it. #Rafale," Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter. He also put out a similar tweet in Hindi.
Karma = The ledger of one's actions.
Nobody escapes it.#Rafale
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 6, 2021
The Congress had made a big issue of the Rafale deal in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but lost the elections.
Dassault Paid 1 Million Euros To Indian Middleman In Rafale Deal: Report
NEW DELHI, April 5: The 2016 Rafale deal between India and France also involved the payment of 1.1 million Euros by aviation major Dassault to an Indian middleman, French publication "Mediapart" has reported citing an investigation by the country's anti-corruption agency.
Dassault claimed the money was paid for 50 replicas of Rafale fighter planes ordered from a Defence Company whose owner Sushen Gupta is being investigated in the Agusta-Westland helicopter scam.
"The company (Dassault) said the money was used to pay for the manufacture of 50 large replica models of Rafale jets, even though the inspectors were given no proof that these models were made," Mediapart reported.
One of these models can be seen outside the residence of the Air Chief. Sources say other models are installed at the Western Air Command, the IAF base in Gwalior; some are headed to the new Rafale squadron being set up in Hasimara and others lie in a warehouse waiting to be installed.
The allegations were first uncovered by the French anti-corruption agency Agence Francaise Anticorruption (AFA) during their audit of Dassault, according to the report.
But the AFA "against all apparent logic" decided not to refer the case to prosecutors, it said.
"As they combed through the 2017 accounts, the AFA inspectors raised an eyebrow when they came across an item of expenditure costing 508,925 euros and entered under the heading 'gifts to clients'," the AFA report said.
"The sum was indeed huge for a gift. Though French law does not set out precise limits, legal precedents suggest that giving a watch or an expensive meal costing several hundred Euros can be enough to constitute corruption."
The report said to justify this "larger than usual gift" Dassault supplied the AFA with a proforma invoice dated March 30, 2017, which was supplied by an Indian company called Defsys Solutions.
"This invoice, which related to 50 per cent of the total order, was for the manufacture of 50 models of the Rafale C, with a price per unit of 20,357 euros," the AFA report said."
Defsys Solutions is run by Sushen Gupta, who is being investigated by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the AgustaWestland case involving kickbacks paid in India in a deal for VVIP choppers. Defsys is one of the subcontractors of Dassault in India.
Sushen Gupta was earlier arrested and granted bail in the chopper deal case.
The AFA inspectors asked Dassault for an explanation. "Why had Dassault ordered an Indian company to make models of its own aircraft at 20,000 Euros a plane? Why was this expenditure entered in the accounts as 'a gift to client'? And were these models, each one of which was supposed to be the size of a small car, really ever made?"
According to Mediapart, "Dassault was unable to provide the AFA with a single document showing that these models existed and were delivered, and not even a photograph. The inspectors thus suspected that this was a bogus purchase designed to hide hidden financial transactions".
The Congress demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement on the reveal.
"An investigation conducted by French Anti-Corruption Agency - AFA has now revealed that after signing of the deal in 2016, Dassault paid 1.1 Million Euro to a middleman i.e. Defsys Solutions. This amount was shown as 'Expenditure by Dassault' as 'Gifts to Clients'," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
"Does it now not require a full and independent investigation into India's biggest defence deal to find out as to how much bribery and commission in reality, if any, was paid and to whom in the Indian government?"
The ruling BJP said the Congress knows the alleged middleman. "The name of Sushen Gupta has come up in this case. Everyone knows him. Salman Khurshid has said so in the past as well," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
90 Voters, 181 Votes In Assam Polling Booth. 6 Officials Suspended
GUWAHATI, April 5: Six polling officials have been suspended in Assam after the Election Commission found that 181 votes had been cast at a booth in Dima Hasao district that had only 90 registered voters.
The booth is in the Haflong constituency that voted in the second phase on April 1. Officially the constituency - won by the BJP's Bir Bhadra Hagjer in 2016 - recorded only 74 per cent polling.
Sources said the poll body plans to issue a re-poll order for this booth, which was an auxiliary polling station for the main centre. An official order to this effect has yet to be issued.
"The Presiding and 1st Polling officer, in their statements, have admitted that they allowed the voters registered against the main polling station to cast their votes in the auxiliary polling station," a press release from the Election Commission said.
According to a news agency, Seikhosiem Lhangum (Sector Officer), Prahlad Ch Roy (Presiding Officer), Parameswar Charangsa (1st Polling Officer), Swaraj Kanti Das (2nd Polling Officer) and Lalzamlo Thiek (3rd Polling Officer) have been suspended, with immediate effect.
The poll body cited "dereliction of duty" in its suspension order.
This will be the second instance of re-polling ordered by the Election Commission in Assam this year, after it directed a new round of voting for the Ratabari seat.
That was after images of election officials transporting an EVM (electronic voting machine) in a BJP BJP candidate's car triggered controversy. The four officials involved were also suspended.
The incident also led to violence in Karimganj district, where the seat is located. The car belonged to the wife of Krishnendu Paul, a BJP contestant in nearby Patharkandi.
As they sought to explain the incident, the Election Commission also said "the polled EVM comprising of BU, CU and VVPAT was found with its seal intact without any damage whatsoever".
The opposition cited the incident to allege "EVM capturing" by the ruling BJP. The Congress's Gaurav Gogoi led the way, tweeting: "This is the only way the BJP can win Assam".
Assam is holding a three-phase Assembly election that began on March 27. The second phase was held last week and the third, and final, phase, is scheduled for Tuesday.
The ruling BJP is bidding for re-election and is fighting a challenge from the Congress-led 'mahajot', or opposition alliance, that includes former ally BPF, or Bodoland People's Front.
Results of the election will be declared on May 2.
22 soldiers killed in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma
RAIPUR, April 4: A day after five jawans were killed in a fierce gunfight between the security forces and Maoists at a forest in Chhattisgarh's Jonaguda, a total of 17 bodies were found from the encounter site on Sunday.
After Saturday's encounter, 18 security personnel went missing. As details of the encounter keep emerging, it appears to be one of the biggest attacks on India's security forces in the last few years.
Not much is known about whether the Maoists also suffered losses, or what kind of weapons they used against the security forces. But the possibility of this being a planned attack is not being dismissed yet. One woman Maoist is believed to have been killed.
A gunfight broke out between the security forces and the Naxals on Saturday which went on for three hours and five jawans were martyred. A day after, 17 bodies were found and the toll is likely to go up. Around 30 security personnel have been injured. A woman Maoist leader has been found dead.
After the encounter, Naxals looted more than two dozen weapons from security personnel, according to CRPF sources.
A stronghold of Maoists, the encounter took place inside a forest near Jonaguda, which falls in Bastar's Bijapur and Sukma district border.
On Friday night, separate teams of security forces launched a massive anti-Naxal operation in South Bastar forests. According to reports, the security forces were getting tip-offs about Madvi Hidma, a top Naxal leader linked with 2013 Jhiram Ghati killings, in which over 30 people, including senior leaders of Chhattisgarh Congress, were killed.
The joint operation was launched from five places — Tarrem, Usoor and Pamed (Bijapur), and Minpa and Narsapuram (in Sukma).
The gunfight took between when the patrolling team that was dispatched from Tarrem was inside the forest near Jonaguda. Cadres of the Peoples' Liberation Guerilla Army battalion ambushed the team and there was heavy firing for hours.
It is not yet clear whether the tip-offs were traps to draw security forces to the spot or whether the anto-Naxal operation actually stirred one of the layers that protect Hidma. Hidma's security cover starts from almost one kilometre. The top Maoist leader at the time of the encounter might have been in the vicinity, which triggered the heavy firing.
US Silent About What Is Happening In India: Rahul Gandhi
NEW DELHI, April 3: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that the United States has been silent on "what is happening in India". He said this while speaking about the vision of democracies in the world.
Gandhi went on to say that "I fundamentally believe that America is a profound idea, the idea of freedom the way it is encapsulated in your constitution...But you have to defend that idea."
Rahul Gandhi said this during an online discussion with former US Ambassador Nicholas Burns, now a professor with the country's Harvard Kennedy School.
Gandhi said, "I don't hear anything from the US establishment on what is going on here in India." He said this while Burns was speaking about the ideas of democracy against the "harsh vision being offered by China and Russia".
Interjecting Burns, Rahul Gandhi said, "I don't hear anything from the US establishment about what is happening here in India. If you are saying 'partnership of democracies', what is your view on what is going on here? I fundamentally believe that America is a profound idea, the idea of freedom, the way it is encapsulated in your constitution, it's a very powerful idea. But you have to defend that idea. And that is the real question."
During the discussion Gandhi also alleged that a "wholesale capture" of India's institutional framework by the ruling dispensation has changed the paradigm in which opposition parties operate post-2014 as the institutions that are supposed to support a fair political fight do not do so anymore.
"To fight elections, I need institutional structures, I need a judicial system that protects me, I need a media that is reasonably free, I need financial parity, I need a set of institutional structures that allow me to operate as a political party. I do not have them," Gandhi said.
Rahul Gandhi claimed that the manner in which the BJP is behaving, a lot of people are getting discontented very fast and there is a need to bring these people together.
During the online discussion, Gandhi also answered a question on what he would do if he was to be Prime Minister of India. He said he would focus more on creating jobs than purely "growth-centric" policies.
"I would move from just a growth-centric idea to a job-centric idea. I would say, we need growth but we are going to do everything to push production and job creation and value addition," he said in response to a question during an online discussion.
China is occupying our territory as India is internally divided: Rahul Gandhi
NEW DELHI, April 2: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said that China continues to occupy the Indian territory because it sees a "weakened India, an India which is internally divided."
The Congress MP from Kerala’s Waynad made these remarks during an interaction with Ambassador Nicholas Burns of Harvard Kennedy School on Friday.
The Congress leader said, “China is occupying Indian territory as we speak and this is because China sees a "weakened India”, an India which is internally divided".
"I am absolutely convinced that a strong India with a clear strategy will have no problem in dealing with China," Rahul said.
Hitting out at the BJP, Rahul said the ruling party has made a "wholesale capture" of the entire "institutional framework" of the country, and this was preventing a "fair political fight".
"There is a wholesale capture of the institutional framework of this country and absolute financial and media dominance," Rahul said.
"To fight elections fairly, there is need of institutional structures, a judicial system that protects, a media that is reasonably free, also financial parity, and there is need of a whole set of structures that actually allow to operate a political party."
"We are in a paradigm where the institutions that are supposed to protect us, do not protect us anymore. And the institutions that are supposed to support a fair political fight, don't do so anymore," he said.
Nicholas Burns is the Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard`s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former US Under Secretary of State.
This was their second such interaction after one during the height of the pandemic. On the electoral losses of his party, the Congress leader said, "Not just the Congress, the BSP, the SP, the NCP are not winning elections."
To bolster his allegation, he gave the example of Assam EVM row, saying, "BJP candidates are running around voting machines in their cars. But there is nothing going on in national media."
Gandhi also said, "When we were in the government, we had a feedback system which enabled effective governance. That feedback system is not there now. The current regime`s style of governance is centralised... it`s the idea that believes that centralised power understands everything."
In the beginning, he said that the assassination of his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 changed him. He also said that he had always been accustomed to an "environment" of public service and had been brought up with the idea that you cannot tolerate injustice.
Delhi to Meerut in just 45 minutes! Delhi-Meerut Expressway opens for public
NEW DELHI, April 1: The long-awaited Delhi- Meerut Expressway is now opened for traffic from today. It will reduce the travel time between Meerut and Delhi to 45 minutes instead of over two and half hours taken currently.
The expressway connecting the two cities is operational from today. Taking to Twitter, Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari said 'we have full filled our promise of reducing travel time between Delhi to Meerut'.
"Delhi Meerut Expressway has now been completed & opened to traffic. We have full filled our promise of reducing travel time between Delhi - Meerut from 2.5 hours to 45 minutes," Nitin Gadkari informed in a tweet.
The 96 km-long 14-lane expressway will reduce travel time between Meerut and Delhi to 45 minutes. At present, commuters travel through NH 58 to reach Delhi and it takes over three hours to cover a distance of 70 km.
The expressway will also reduce the travel time of commuters from Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Haridwar and Dehradun to Delhi.