The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has directed suspension of construction on the entire 21-km Sohna road project. Envisaged at a cost of Rs 1,300 crore, the project is the second most expensive road project in Gurgaon.
What is the Sohna road project?
The project, the construction of which started in 2018, focuses on six-laning and strengthening of a 21-km stretch between Rajiv Chowk and Sohna with the construction of flyovers and underpasses at various points. The project has been divided into two packages, each being completed by different concessionaires. While the first deals with a nine-km stretch between Rajiv Chowk and Badshahpur that will be revamped at a cost of approximately Rs 690 crore, the second deals with the revamping of a 12-km stretch between Badshahpur and Sohna to be completed at a cost of around Rs 606 crore. The deadline for both packages is July 2021.
Why is the project important?
There are two main reasons why the project is critical for commuters in Gurgaon. First, it will reduce the travel time between Gurgaon and Alwar to under two hours, from the three hours it currently takes people to cover the 120-km long stretch. Secondly, it will provide a signal-free stretch between Rajiv Chowk and Sohna, helping commuters to completely avoid, among other intersections, Vatika Chowk, one of the busiest junctions in the city.
Why has work on the project been suspended?
It was a visit to the construction site earlier this week that drew the attention of NHAI officials to multiple violations of the safety norms set out in the concession agreement. Officials said they noticed a complete absence of traffic marshals along the site of the project, as well as a dearth of proper barricading in several construction areas. Taking note of these violations, the NHAI wrote to the concessionaires of both packages of the project, directing them to suspend work.
What prompted the site visit that brought these violations to the notice of officials?
Officials visited the site of the Sohna road project several times since Sunday morning, after a section of an elevated road being built as part of the project collapsed on August 22 night. The incident occurred around 9.30 pm, when a 40-metre spine of the span between pillars number 10 and 11 collapsed. Although there were no fatalities, Gurgaon police officials confirmed that two labourers sustained minor injuries in the incident. The five-km elevated road, once complete, is meant to provide a smooth commute between Subhash Chowk and Badshahpur.
📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@ieexplained) and stay updated with the latest
Has work on the Sohna road project been suspended earlier as well?
This is not the first time that the concessionaires of the project have been directed to suspend work. On July 3 this year, the NHAI had written to them directing that work be suspended for violation of safety norms. Four days later, however, the order was revoked, subject to three conditions – that proper barricading would be done before any construction in future; potholes or patchwork would be repaired within a stipulated period of time failing which penalties would be imposed; and that the concessionaires would submit the credentials of all traffic marshals to be deputed at the site within 15 days.
For how long will work on the project remain suspended?
Officials from the NHAI have said that work on the project will resume only after the safety norms agreed upon in the concession agreement are met with, and an action taken report is submitted. Until then, work on the project will remain suspended and a penalty of Rs 50,000 per day will be imposed on the concessionaires. Furthermore, the NHAI has also warned the concessionaires that they will be held responsible for any “incident” at the site in future, and for any third-party claims made relating to loss of property or life.-