Both expressways to bypass Delhi will be functional by June end, SC told
Around 13 years after the Supreme Court proposed the construction of a peripheral expressway to decongest Delhi and reduce pollution in the Capital, the 271-km highway is expected to see the light of day in June this year.
A Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee informed the top court on Friday that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will complete the 135-km Kundli-Ghaziabad Palwal or the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) by March end.
On the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal or the Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE), the committee said the concessionaire has promised to complete the 136-km road by June end.
Together, the two highways will form a ring road around Delhi which vehicles not bound for Delhi will use to bypass the Capital.
The report, placed before a bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta, had details of how the money spent to acquire land for the construction increased from the time the project was conceptualised and cleared by the court.
In its February 11, 2005 order, the court had recorded that an amount of Rs 844 crore would be required for land acquisition. After enhancing it in stages, the cost has now gone up to over Rs 8,100 crore. This is due to escalation in land acquisition cost, more land acquired for interchanges due to change in design, cost involved in shifting of utilities and arbitral awards.
The WPE will connect Kundli with Palwal via Manesar in Haryana while the EPE envisages a signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal.
The court, which has been hearing a 1985 petition filed by environmentalist MC Mehta on various issues, including vehicular pollution, had asked the Centre to build the expressway for channelling non-Delhi bound traffic.
The idea was not only to decongest Delhi but also to check pollution. The road will divert around 2 lakh vehicles — a large chuck of them polluting diesel-spewing trucks — passing through the Capital every day.
Dubbed as the first smart and green highway, EPE and WPE will be equipped with intelligent highway traffic management system, video incident detection system, electrified by solar panels and faster electronic toll collection (ETC) systems at the toll booths.
Work on both the expressways were stalled due to disputes over land acquisition. WPE got detailed after a dispute between the Haryana government and DSC India Ltd, its former concessionaire.
It was only after the top court’s intervention that a financial settlement was arrived between the two and the contract was given to a new concessionaire.
Initially scheduled to be made operational before Commonwealth Games in October, 2010, the expressway could not start last year despite the Centre’s assurance.
The court will hear the matter again in April.
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- Experts, however, attributed the reduction to the “unprecedented conditions” brought about by the Covid-19 lockdown and called for reforms to curb pollution by local and regional factors.
- The L-G also noted that the economy of the Capital shrunk by 5.6% due to the pandemic.
- Transport experts say the Metro ridership may have also suffered on account of the free bus rides for women scheme
- According to the outcome budget, education was among the sectors where the government was able to achieve maximum targets.
- In the outcome budget, which was also presented on Monday, the government said that 40% of the work on the underpass was completed until December last year.
- There were 87.8 lakh Covid-19 tests conducted in the city till December 31, 2020.