Originally supposed to be a special purpose vehicle (SPV) project, the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway's mode of execution was midway changed to build-operate-transfer (BOT) — a move that could have possibly scripted its doom.
The comptroller and auditor general (CAG) had picked holes in the project's inception and execution in the performance audit of the expressway that was presented to the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in December 2009.
The parliamentary committee, while observing the CAG report, had slammed the government for changing the mode of execution and thereby sowing the seeds of the mess the commuters have to face today.
"There were no internal guidelines or directions from the government for determining the mode of execution of the project. Such guidelines were issued much later in 2006 while the project started at least four years earlier. Also, the mode of execution of the project was SPV and it was subsequently changed to BOT despite the fact that the financial consultant initially did not find the model viable," stated the report.
In the SPV mode, the Union government would have had the management, operation, control and responsibility of the expressway.
"I cannot comment why the government compromised on the mode. The commuters are left at the mercy of the private concessionaire who collect money for bad service," said RP Indoria, former director general, ministry of road transport and highways.
The committee observed that the government changed the mode to increase private sector participation in the project.
"Under the SPV mode, the government had to bear the cost of the project. By shifting to BOT mode, the government saved money besides receiving R61 crore from the concessionaire," said the committee report.
The committee observed that switching the mode indicated that there had been a certain kind of indecisiveness that clouded the entire process.
"The BOT mode has not been successful. This is the reason why the Gurgaon expressway's five years of operation has been a bitter cause of resentment and public outcry. That is why the NHAI also moved the Delhi High Court to seek help in terminating the 20-year concessionaire contract," said a National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) official.