The execution of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, one of the two crucial projects conceived nearly a decade back for decongesting roads in the national capital, is to be implemented on a fast-track mode by the Centre, with a cabinet clearance for the reformated project expected before the end of this month.
“We are ready with the bids. The orders, in seven packages, would be placed as soon as the cabinet approval comes through,” a senior official in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) told The Indian Express. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been asked to go flat-out and ensure the project is completed in the next three years.
The urgency for executing this vital link stems from mounting concerns over heavy vehicular traffic that passes through the city in absence of the peripheral roads and comes in the wake of a January 2015 directive of a three-judge Supreme Court bench that ordered NHAI to wrap up the project on or before July 30, 2018.
An estimated 80,000 diesel trucks emitting toxic fumes pass each night through the city, which has been adjudged the most polluted metro in the world. Vehicular pollution in Delhi have reached record levels with respirable suspended particulate matter at 316 micrograms per cubic metre, almost 16 times of what is normal.
Ten years back, on February 11, 2005, the apex court had ordered the construction of two peripheral highways, the eastern and western peripheral expressways, to decongest and reduce pollution in the capital. The western peripheral expressway, which is being executed by the Haryana government, is about 70 per cent complete.
The EPE has been stuck since 2007, notwithstanding several attempts by the NHAI to offer stretches to private players for execution of the project and the earlier United Progressive Alliance government having even set a deadline to award this project by December 31, 2013.
Having failed to elicit private investment under the BOT (build, operate and transfer) model, NHAI has subsequently changed the execution model of this project to the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) model, wherein the project is funded by the government and the developer is insulated from the traffic risk.
The 135-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway will provide signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal while the Western Expressway connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana.
To expedite execution of the project, Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has said that contractors who complete work ahead of the Centre’s three-years schedule will be incentivised.