The Delhi government Friday opposed the Centre’s demand to pay over Rs 3,500 crore spent on acquiring land for the Eastern and Western peripheral expressways.
Appearing for the state government, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Deepak Gupta that the state had already paid Rs 700 crore and did not want to shell out more. The court asked Rohatgi to file a proper affidavit after which it will examine the issue.
Rohatgi said that in 2005, when the Supreme Court had passed orders on the expressways, the project cost was around Rs 800 crore and the state was asked to pay Rs 400 crore which was complied with. Claiming that the cost subsequently rose to Rs 8,000 crore, he said, “We said we can’t pay more”.
He pointed out that the project “was the baby of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana” and that these states “are developing townships along the expressways”.
The senior counsel added that the SC had subsequently imposed an environmental cess on polluting vehicles entering Delhi and that, as of now, it had touched over Rs 900 crore. The state wanted to use this to buy electric buses, he added.
Rohatgi was responding to Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni who, appearing for the Centre, referred to an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and said the Delhi government must pay the dues.
The MoRTH affidavit said that a meeting of officials of the three states, convened under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary on November 11, had recommended that the “Government of Delhi must pay its dues without fail, including the immediate payment of Rs 1,000 crore as directed by the Supreme Court” and that “the remaining payment shall be completed within one month’s time”.
The meeting, it added, had also resolved that “any further increase in cost on account of land acquisition shall be borne by Government of Delhi, UP and Haryana in the existing proportion of 50 per cent, 25 per cent and 25 per cent respectively as was decided earlier”.
While ordering the meeting of the representatives of the three states on October 18, the SC had asked the Delhi government to deposit Rs 1,000 crore of its pending share, as cost of land acquisition for the expressways.
While the Eastern Peripheral Expressway provides signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal, the Western Peripheral Expressway connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana.