March 31 was the deadline for the completion of an ambitious four-laning project of the 78-km stretch on National Highway-95 from Ludhiana to Talwandi Bhai in Ferozepur, but the project seems nowhere near completion.
The project worth Rs 480 crore, that was awarded to the Essel Ludhiana Talwandi Toll Road Private Limited, commenced in March 2012, and was scheduled to be completed in five years.
The project was handed over on the build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis and all rights of the stretch were shifted from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to the entrusted firm and, in return, the firm had to provide every facility to the road’s users until the end of the concession period, which was 29 years from the appointed date.
The entrusted firm had to collect money from two toll plazas.
In five years, the entrusted company has only managed to accomplish somewhere around 60% of the work so far, officials said.
The main reason behind the unnecessary delay in the completion of the project was the dispute between the contractor and sub-contractors.
The project was later awarded to PAN India for Rs 692 crore, which further appointed the Varaha Infrastructure for the job, due to which the project remained at a standstill for two years from October 2013 to July 2015.
However, later the project was again taken over by the Essel.
Incomplete roads and flyovers have not only resulted in traffic chaos in cities, including Mullanpur, Jagraon and Moga, but have also become a reason for accidents on a daily basis. Many people have even lost their lives in road accidents due to the miserable condition of the under-construction road.
COMPLETION IN FIVE MONTHS: COMPANY
At a meeting with deputy commissioner (DC) Parveen Kumar Thind, on Friday, the company claimed to complete the project in the next five months.
Officials said that at a highlevel meeting in New Delhi in the presence of Union road transport and highway minister Nitin Gadkari, the company has promised to spend Rs 20 crore every month to accomplish the project speedily.
However, sources said that the company didn’t have enough funds to spend on the project, hence, the completion would be delayed further.
“The company had promised to spend Rs 20 crore in February as well, but failed to do so due to financial crunch,” the sources said.
The deputy commissioner said that with Friday being the deadline for the completion of the project, he had held a review meeting with the officials of National Highway Authority of India and Essel company in which they had assured that they would definitely accomplish the project in five months.
Colonel Neeraj Jain, project director, National Highways Authority of India, was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.