Ludhiana-Talwandi Bhai four-laning project in limbo

  • Parampreet Singh Narula, Hindustan Times, Moga
  • Updated: Apr 18, 2016 14:32 IST
An underconstruction bridge on the Ludhiana-Talwandi Bhai stretch of the NH-95 in Moga. (HT Photo)

The work on the ambitious project of four-laning of the 78-kilometre stretch on the National Highway-95 from Ludhiana to Talwandi Bhai in Ferozepur has been stalled since October 2013.

The incomplete work has not only been causing inconvenience to the commuters, but also leading to mishaps on this road on a regular basis.

The project worth Rs 480 crore that was awarded to Essel Ludhiana Talwandi Toll Road Private Limited commenced on March 26, 2012, and was scheduled to be completed in September 2014.

The project was handed over on 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 the money from two toll plazas.

As per the information, the NHAI had awarded the contract for the four-laning road to ESSEL Infrastructure Private Limited, which had further awarded it to PAN India for Rs 692 crore and PAN India then appointed Varaha Infrastructure for the job.

However, the work is at standstill since October 2013 after Varaha Infra Limited had terminated its project with PAN India, claiming that it had not been paid the pending amount of Rs 50 crore.

Though, ESSEL Infrastructure had once again started the work in July 2015 and had continued it for a few months, the work was again stopped following financial crisis in the company.

Incomplete roads and flyovers have not only resulted in traffic chaos in cities, including Mullanpur, Jagraon, Moga, but has also become a reason for accidents.

Following accidents intermittently, a Moga-based lawyer Ramesh Grover had also filed public interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana high court, presenting data specifying that 50 people have lost their lives in 88 accidents in a time span of six months in Moga district due to the miserable condition of the under-construction road.

Meanwhile, NHAI project director Colonel Neeraj Jain said they were making all their efforts to complete the work on this stretch as soon as possible. “The entrusted firm has recently restarted the work and they are claiming to complete the work within eight months, ”he claimed.

Jain said earlier the work was stalled due to the dispute between contractors and after that there were some problems with the lack of funds due to which the work was stopped again. “Now, all the obstructions have been cleared and hopefully, the company will accomplish the work this time, ”he added.

Moga deputy commissioner (DC) Kuldeep Singh Vaid, too, claimed that the administration had strictly ordered the NHAI officials to get work complete at the earliest. “I had also brought the issue to the notice of deputy chief minister, after which the work has started again, ”he said.

However, contrary to their claims, the project does not seem to move in the right direction.

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