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NHAI ignored advice on safety?

india Updated: Nov 06, 2009 23:32 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja

Did National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) ignore safety advice given by the independent consultant for the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway project?

A written reply filed by RITES-SHELADIA, the independent consultant in the project, in the Punjab & Haryana High Court recently said had the highway authority acted on their advice of timely installation of five foot-over-bridges and iron median on the Gurgaon stretch, the death toll could have been lower.

The reply was filed in response to a PIL filed by the father of an accident victim.

KS Anand’s 19-year-old son died on March 7 this year after his car crashed into a stationary water tanker on the expressway. He hit the truck while trying to save a pedestrian.

More than 120 people have died and over 1,600 injured in various accidents on the expressway since its opening on January 35, 2008. About 40% cases involved pedestrians.

The stretch of 27.7 km initially had just two foot-over-bridges in Delhi. The Haryana government in August 2009 constructed two more foot-over-bridges.

RITES has also suggested that the NHAI terminate its agreement with Jay-pee DSC Limited as the latter failed to complete jobs that were to be completed within 120 days of commercial opening of the expressway.

DSC, the concessionaire company, said in a written statement to HT, that they completed what was there on the punch list in time.

“An (NHAI) committee submitted its findings on November 17, 2008, concluding that the concessionaire had completed all balance,” said the statement.

The statement added: “The NHAI had to take appropriate decisions on other items such as work on additional foot-over-bridges, median fencing, etc., which were not under the scope of the concession agreement.”

The DSC said RITES-SHELADIA was part of the committee that signed the papers agreeing that the concessionaire had completed all items under its scope of work.

NHAI chief general manager R.K. Pandey said foot-over-bridges were constructed and fencing done after it was noticed that pedestrians were crossing the expressway despite not being authorised to do so.

He said he had no idea about RITES suggestion to cancel the agreement with the DSC.