The Haryana government is mulling buying out operational rights of the 27.7-km Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway to ensure hassle-free commuting between Delhi and Gurgaon.
Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced the plan on Saturday. “We are going to talk to the surface transport and highways ministry and NHAI because we want to manage the toll plazas. Commuters have been suffering for a long time,” Hooda said.
In 2002, NHAI had awarded the BoT project to Jaypee DSC Ltd, which is now Delhi Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd (DGSCL) that spent about Rs. 1,240 crore to construct the expressway. DGSCL owns rights of operating the expressway and collecting toll till 2028, 20 years from January 2008, when the stretch was thrown open to commuters. DGSCL sources put the current buyback value of the stretch at Rs. 2,300 crore.
“We would find out whether there is a provision for buying out the project. We are pretty confident of running such projects as the matter concerns the public’s plight,” Hooda said. DGSCL refused to comment on the issue.
“NHAI and the lead banker of the project — IDFC — are in the process of scouting for a substitute concessionaire,” said an NHAI official, who did not wish to be identified.
CP Joshi, road transport and highways minister, told HT, “I am not aware of what the Haryana CM said, but I will talk to him and see how commuters’ woes can be resolved.”
NHAI’s dissatisfaction with DGSCL dates back to December 2011, when it issued a show cause notice for contractual violations, including failure to decongest and alleged loan fraud of Rs. 1,597 crore.
In February 2012, NHAI terminated DGSCL’s contract and it approached the Delhi High Court challenging the notice and obtained a stay. The two parties then entered an agreement and DGSCL agreed to implement NHAI’s decongestion plan.
“We expect better services as the government may not run for profit,” said Umesh Gupta, a DLF City resident.