An ambitious project to complete a ring road around Delhi — to let nearly 200,000 vehicles bypass the Capital every day instead of clogging it — is caught in a jam.
The venture was first approved in 2007 by the Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPAC), comprising senior officials of various ministries and the Planning Commission. But so far, only half the project — the 135-km Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE) — is nearing completion while work on the 135-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) is yet to begin. The EPE was to link Haryana’s Palwal town with Uttar Pradesh’s Kundli.Officials said the latest stumbling block is the Centre’s inability to decide how much commuters should pay for using the EPE. While the cabinet committee on infrastructure and the PPPAC approved toll rates on par with those on national highways and the WPE, the road ministry insists on charging 50% more. The road ministry wants bypass rates because the EPE is a bypass, not a highway.
This has run into stiff opposition from the finance ministry and senior plan panel officials.
Plan panel member BK Chaturvedi said in a recent note, “If higher toll rates are charged, the bids would be better. But to that extent, people will be taxed more… its usage may get limited and the purpose of making the bypass may not be fulfilled.”