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Road to progress in slow motion

It was supposed to connect India's four busiest national highways. But seven years after the project was first conceived, the 135-km-long Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway is stuck up in a blame-game between the concessionaire and the HSIIDC.
By Dhananjay Jha | Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
UPDATED ON MAY 08, 2012 01:48 AM IST

It was supposed to connect India's four busiest national highways. But seven years after the project was first conceived, the 135-km-long Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway is stuck up in a blame-game between the concessionaire and the HSIIDC.

Also known as Western Peripheral Expressway, the KMP corridor passes through Palwal, Faridabad, Mewat, Gurgaon, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonepat districts.

The project has been delayed by more than two years following which the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Corporation (HSIIDC) cracked whip on the concessionaire.

After the HSIIDC served a notice to the concessionaire, a blame game ensued between it and concessionaire.

The ambitious Rs. 1,915 crore project was allotted to KMP Expressway Ltd on November 14, 2005 on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis with completion time of July 29, 2009.

Even two aerial surveys by Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, first on July 10, 2008 and second on December 21, 2010, could not speed up the work on this project.

"The delay is not because of the fault on part of the concessionaire. Rather, the fault lies on part of the HSIIDC which has not acquired land to hand over to the concessionaire till date," said a spokesperson of the concessionaire.

According to the concessionaire, the HSIIDC has to acquire as much as 67 acres of land between Palwal and Manesar since most of the problematic areas are somewhere close to Sonepat.

"Besides land acquisition, change of scope in the project is another reason that has caused the delay.

The HSIIDC has agreed in principle to act accordingly," said the spokesperson.

The HSIIDC, on the other hand, has vehemently refuted the allegations of the concessionaire. It says it will impose a heavy penalty on the concessionaire for the delay, besides putting more restrictive measures.

"We will take all possible steps to tighten the noose around the concessionaire. A committee is taking care of the matter. May be in a week we will come clear on action against the concessionaire," said Rajiv Arora, MD, HSIIDC.

Till date, work on only 48 km of the 135 km stretch has been completed. The stretch is ready to become operational. The work on the rest of the road is still in progress.

"If the land acquisition issue had not cropped up, the stretch would have been covered up to the maximum level," said the concessionaire.

According to the government, had it invoked the penalty in July 2009, the concessionaire would have been forced to pay about Rs. 27 crore till April 2012.

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