Who should maintain the five national highways passing through Delhi? While National Highways 1, 2, 8, 10 and 24 are constructed by the National Highway Authority of India, they are maintained by the public works department of the Delhi government.
Now the Union Ministry of Surface Transport is contemplating handing the five roads over to Delhi since these have long turned into streets running through densely populated areas of the city.
But there is a glitch. Delhi government and the ministry cannot seem to agree on how much money the latter should provide for the maintenance of the 74 km — the cumulative length of these roads.
"The PWD has been maintaining these roads, but one had to seek permission every time to do some work. The ministry has been funding the upkeep of the roads. But for upgrading these roads in one go — one would need extra money," said a PWD official, who didn't wish to be named, as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta said the state government had suggested that these roads be handed over to them to reduce red-tape related delays.
"The terms (of the handover) are still being discussed. The chief minister had met the Union minister in this connection. They (NHAI) are not trained to maintain city roads. They don’t build bus stops and footpaths that are needed on a city street," said Mehta.
The PWD official said NHAI was handing over national highways to local authorities in cases where cities have expanded beyond their earlier limits.
"These national highways are not really highways any longer. There is a lot of local traffic on them," the official said.