SC tells Delhi to pay Rs 1,000 crore for western and eastern expresswaysUpdated: Oct 18, 2019 21:31 IST
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Delhi government to pay Rs 1,000 crore as an interim measure to the National Highway Authority (NHAI) as its share towards the cost incurred for constructing the 270-km Western and Eastern peripheral expressways.
It also told the Union cabinet secretary to look into the Delhi government’s grievance over the final amount the state is required to pay for the project.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta gave four weeks to the Centre to consider the Delhi government’s concerns and said some compromise must be worked out. However, the bench appeared to disagree with Delhi’s argument that the Capital does not accrue any benefit from the expressways that form a ring road around Delhi and allow heavy vehicles to bypass the capital.
“There is a direct benefit. Delhi will get clean air, there will be less pollution. Its for the benefit for everyone. The flora and fauna of Delhi will benefit,” the judge told senior advocate Dhruv Mehta, who on behalf of the Delhi government claimed Delhi was receiving an indirect benefit.
The peripheral expressways around Delhi connecting NH-1 and NH-2 were envisaged to decongest the capital and reduce air pollution.
Mehta informed the apex court that the amount computed in 2005 was Rs 840 crore, but in the 14 years, the cost escalated 10 times due to an increase in land acquisition cost. Though Delhi has already paid Rs 400 crore, NHAI is asking for 50% of Rs 8,400 crore spent on the project so far.
The Delhi government’s counsel told the court that Rs 4200 crore is a large sum of money, and it cannot carve out funds to meet NHAI’s demand. Also, the land acquired for the project falls within the jurisdiction of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Therefore, it was not justified to impose a financial burden on Delhi government for the increase in land acquisition prices, it said.
Senior advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the bench, told the court that UP and Haryana had already paid their share. Initially, the apex court had asked the Delhi government to pay Rs 1,500 crore, but its counsel insisted on reducing the amount. “There is no pocket change. There is no money with the state,” Mehta told the bench, which then reduced the amount to Rs 1,000 crore.
The Delhi government counsel informed the court that the cost had increased manifold due to a delay in the land acquisition procedure .