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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Commuters' safety sent for toss as operator given hasty green signal

Siddhartha Rai , Hindustan Times  Gurgaon, September 12, 2013
First Published: 01:20 IST(12/9/2013) | Last Updated: 01:24 IST(12/9/2013)

There is no dearth of experts decrying that the final completion certificate to the concessionaire of Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway was issued in a hurry, ignoring the fact that a number of items agreed upon in the concession certificate had not been completed.

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The commercial operations were allegedly allowed to be commenced even in the absence of several safety features.

The concessionaire, DGSCL, once again declined to comment on the issue.

"Whenever the concessionaire is asked to do anything, it says the matter is sub-judice and hence it cannot do it. If it cannot provide services for the reason that there is an ongoing litigation, then what right has it got to collect toll?" said RP Indoria, director general (road development) and special secretary (retired) in the ministry of road transport and highways.

In September 2009, the vigilance wing of RITES, an engineering consultancy company, had initiated departmental inquiry against the then independent consultant, RITES-SHELADIA that had issued provisional certificate to the concessionaire of the expressway, allowing it to commence operations on the expressway.

The action had come in the wake of a complaint from the father of one of the accident victims, KS Anand, who had questioned the urgency of issuing provisional certificate to the concessionaire despite the fact that a number of road safety features were not incorporated into the project.

"The concessionaire could have done a lot of things which could have saved a lot of precious human lives. But, we have only seen deterioration of services; never have we seen anything, any feature being added by it," said TN Kaul, general secretary of Gurgaon Citizens' Council, a pressure group of city residents.

Years on, the fight to get better facilities on the expressway is still continuing. One of the major items on the list of works left incomplete by the concessionaire and one which has led to loss of numerous lives, service roads, have yet to be completed.

HT's people-centric campaign made authorities to wake up - National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) penalised the present concessionaire for having failed to maintain service roads between Rajiv Chowk and Kherki Daula toll plaza despite public inconvenience and took it upon itself to maintain them.

The NHAI also expedited the laying of service lanes on the stretch from Rajokri flyover to Palam, though this project is plagued by inter-departmental conflicts and a few stretches are yet to be completed.

HT's relentless coverage also led to the finalisation of a number of foot-overbridges, important among them being the ones at Hero Honda Chowk and Iffco Chowk.

A number of other such facilities have been proposed. The shortcomings of the concessionaire, too, were targeted and the impact was that oncoming traffic mirrors were installed as a safety feature on the expressway.


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