Giving a push to the eastern and western peripheral highways — to de-congest Delhi’s roads by diverting inter-state traffic not destined for the Capital — the Delhi Cabinet cleared Rs 621 crore towards acquiring land for the project.
Senior Delhi government officials said land acquisition cost has gone up from an initial R844 crore, estimated in 2007, to almost Rs 2,500 crore.
In a meeting chaired by chief minister Sheila Dikshit, the Cabinet gave its approval, albeit under protest, to send the money to National Highway Authority of India, the nodal agency for the project.
“The land acquisition cost has to be shared between Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. While the Delhi government has to pay 50%, the other two states have to share the remaining 50%. Our share has gone up from initial Rs 422 crore to Rs 1,245 crore. We have already paid Rs 624 crore,” said a senior Delhi government official.
NHAI officials said prices have increased over the years as land owners went in for arbitration and even moved court. As there is a formula for sharing land acquisition costs among the three states, the governments will contribute their shares.
The highways were conceived in 2004-2005 on the insistence of the Supreme Court with an aim to provide an alternate road, especially for inter-state commercial vehicles not destined for Delhi.
The cost of the 240-kilometre expressways was initially pegged at Rs 3,657 crore. While the 135.65 kilometre western peripheral expressway, also known as Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway, is nearing completion, construction of 105 kilometre eastern peripheral highway is yet to start.