Monday, 27 July 2015

Eastern Peripheral Expressway: NGT pulls up NHAI over delay

The National Green Tribunal has pulled up NHAI and Haryana Government for the excessive delay in construction of Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways, which will ease traffic congestion in the capital.

"You are into this since 2008, still you have not commenced work. Tenders are yet to be floated. What kind of efficiency is that? You are an expert body for building roads and this is what you are doing. Does it speak well of your organisation?

"This is something very bad. You keep on giving undertakings to courts. When will you finalise the award of contract? You cannot put at stake the life of people," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said, slamming the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

The Tribunal was hearing a case of air pollution in the capital.

The construction of Eastern Peripheral Expressway is being carried out by NHAI, while the work on Kundli-Manesar- Palwal (KMP) or Western Peripheral Expressway is being handled by Haryana Government.

Haryana Government informed the bench that the work on the 52-km Kundli-Manesar section has been initiated and would be completed by January, 2016.

"You have taken years to decide whether a contract should be given or not. Today there are machines for everything. Nobody thinks of that... The highest court of India has given you orders and still you are reluctant. The Supreme Court has been very kind, we will push it harder," the bench observed after NHAI officials said that the expressway is likely to be completed by July, 2018.

The green panel, which has set a deadline of maximum one year for disposal of cases relating to environmental issues, said that considerable time has passed since the Supreme Court order and now it wants the matter to come to a "final stage".

Expressing anguish over the delay in completing the road projects, the Tribunal said that "we have to get things going or" heads must roll.

Noting that diesel is the prime source of air pollution in Delhi, the tribunal had on April 7 held that all diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old would not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR. On November 26, 2014, it had banned plying of all diesel or petrol vehicles which were more than 15 years old.

The Supreme Court had on January 30 allowed Haryana Government to issue fresh tenders for construction of Western Peripheral Expressway around Delhi, and said all pending disputes between the old concessionaire and the authorities would be decided through arbitration.

"We grant two months to Haryana to award contracts and another one month to start work at the Expressway. We will not extend this time limit," the apex court had said and asked the government not to indulge in blame-game on grounds of change of regime.

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