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Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 20, 2013
Delhi commuters, finally, can look forward to get some relief from the nightmarish traffic jams caused by outbound heavy and commercial vehicles passing through the city roads. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), during a meeting on Friday to review key infrastructure projects to be implemented during 2013-14 on a priority basis, decided to fast-track the much-needed but delayed 135-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) project.

The meeting came close on the heels of an announcement made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to set an investment target of Rs. 1.15 lakh crore in public private partnership projects across sectors in rail, highways, port and power in the next six months.

The eastern expressway is one half of the peripheral road around Delhi and will come up along the Western Peripheral Expressway (which is being implemented by the Haryana government). Once complete, the EPE will complete the ring road around Delhi and provide an alternative route for traffic not bound for the Capital.

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Sources said that in Friday’s meeting, chaired by principal secretary to the PM Pulok Chatterjee, the highways ministry was directed to expedite the process of awarding contracts. However, no timeframe was fixed for implementing two other proposed greenfield expressway projects in the pipeline — the Delhi-Jaipur and Mumbai-Vadodra roads — though they too have been accorded priority. 

The Rs. 2699 crore EPE project was first approved in 2007 but could not take off because of various hurdles. It was reviewed several times and given the final nod by the Cabinet Committee on infrastructure in May 2011.

The National Highways Authority of India invited bids for the project last year but it did not find any takers as the delay had resulted in the project becoming unviable.