The Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday stepped in to ensure that there is no further delay in implementing the ambitious project to complete a ring road around Delhi. The road will let nearly 2 lakh vehicles skip the Capital every day and help ease traffic congestion.
Hindustan Times had on February 10 reported how the 135-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) - half of the 270-km road around Delhi -had failed to take off because of bureaucratic indecisiveness. The road was first approved by the Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) way back in 2007.
Along with the Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE), which is being implemented by the Haryana government and is nearing completion, the eastern expressway would have completed the ring road and provided an alternative route to inter-state traffic not bound for Delhi and helped decongest city roads.
At a meeting chaired by principal secretary to the Prime Minister Pulok Chatterjee on Tuesday, it was decided that the EPE proposal would be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) for clearance next week.
AK Upadhyay, road secretary, Sudha Pillai, member secretary, Planning Commission and R Gopalan, secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, attended the meeting among others.
"The EPE proposal would be placed before the CCI meeting scheduled next week for approval," said an official.
The project has been held up since 2007 as the government had been unable to decide how much commuters should pay for using this stretch.
But now the Centre seems to have agreed to the road ministry's stand to charge toll tax 50% more than rates charged on other national highways and the WPE.
The road ministry had earlier wanted toll rates of bypass roads - 1.5 times more than what is charged on national highways. Their argument: the EPE is a bypass, not a highway.
The move to levy more toll had invited criticism from some senior panel officials and the Finance Ministry on the grounds that it would go against "public interest" and make the project "unviable" vis-à-vis WPE.