Non-clearance of a 20-km stretch of National Highway 73 (NH-73), which falls in eco-sensitive and wildlife zones, has halted the project of widening the highway.
Information procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is of the opinion that concessionaire Gammon India could not opt out of the project of widening the National Highway 73, also known as Panchkula-Yamunanagar road.
Gammon India had expressed its desire to exit from the project by a letter dated January 21 and NHAI, on January 31 and also had sought Haryana chief secretary's intervention to get approvals required for the project.
The letter, dated January 28, from Chandigarh-based NHAI office, to BS Singla, chief general manager, NHAI, New Delhi, said, "The option of mutual exit from the project by both parties, as sought by the concessionaire is not permissible in the present scenario by an article of the Concession Agreement.
The legal options obtained by the project director (PD) from independent consultant has clarified that amicable closure of the project is not covered/permitted under Article 37 of the Concession Agreement."
The letter also adds, "This office has gone through the above comments given by the PD and fully agrees with the comments of the PD."
Shivalik Vikas Manch president Vijay Bansal, who procured the RTI information, also held a press conference in this regard on Tuesday. "We have been opposing their exit from the project,"said OC Mathur, PD, NHAI.
The prominent issue is of clearance of 20 km which is falling in eco-sensitive zone and wildlife sanctuary, Khol-Hi-Raitan. NHAI has informed chief secretary SC Chaudhery that, "necessary applications have been submitted to department of forest, Haryana government in May and September 2013, but the approval from State Wild Life Board has not yet received. On receipt of approval from State Wild Life Board, the case will be forwarded to National Wild Life Board and after clearance from the same, will be processed to the Supreme Court."
The project of widening of NH-73 covers104.77-km road that connects Panchkula, Barwala, Saha and Yamunanagar. The concession period of the project is about 21 years. As the project is on the design-build-finance-operate-transfer (DBFOT) model, it will have two toll plazas, one at Panchkula and the other at Yamunanagar. The four bypasses have been planned at Yamunanagar, Saha, Shahzadpur and Barwala.