There is no respite in sight for Delhi’s traffic woes as the construction of the Rs 2000 crore Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE) is far from completion, eight years after contract was awarded for the project. It may never be either. The Haryana government sources said that the state administration may take tough action by even cancelling the contract it awarded to DS Constructions and Madhucon Projects in 2005. Subsequently, the two companies floated a special purpose vehicle, KMP expressways to complete the project. In January 2005, a concession agreement for 23.9 years was signed between Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (HSIIDC) and KMP expressways. The agreement stated that commercial operations by the project would be started in June 2009.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard, Haryana Industries Minister Randeep Surjewala said, “My prima facie opinion is that the contractor had defaulted to complete the project intentionally. The Government of Haryana has imposed liquidated damages on the project contractor. Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has himself surveyed the project by road and helicopter.”
After the project couldn’t meet the June 2009 deadline, KMP expressways subsequently sought multiple extensions for the project. In June 2012, a meeting was held between Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, Haryana Industries minister Randeep Surjewala, Delhi state PWD minister Raj Kumar Chauhan and representatives of KMP expressways.
A decision was taken that the project would be completed by May 31, 2013, which was touted to be the final deadline. But the company barely completed 68 per cent of the construction by then.
In April 2012, HSIIDC penalised the company and demanded that it pay up 0.01 per cent of the total project cost per week from July 30, 2009 till completion of the project. When the company refused to pay up, HSIIDC made an unsuccessful attempt to withdraw the penalty from company’s escrow account. Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), the lead lender for the project, informed HSIIDC that the company had not deposited its share of funds in the account for five-six months, even through loan providers by the project had disbursed 85 per cent of the total loan amount. KMP expressways has appealed to a Chandigarh court against penalty levied by HSIIDC, subsequently the court ordered HSIIDC not to levy penalty. The bank has challenged the order in the High Court. Meanwhile, IDBI bank, which is the principal financier for the project recently submitted it views to the finance ministry in a meeting chaired by P Chidambaram pertaining to ‘stalled’ projects in the country.
The Delhi state government, which will bear 50 per cent of the land acquisition cost of the expressway, has so far paid Rs 621 crore as its share of the cost. Uttar Pradesh and Haryana state governments would pay the rest of the money for land acquisition. Meanwhile, IDBI bank, which is the principal financier for the project recently submitted it views to the finance ministry in a meeting chaired by P Chidambaram pertaining to ‘stalled’ projects in the country.
Surjewala said the project is under the watch of the Supreme Court via observer Bhure Lal, who is heading the Environmental Protection and Conservation Authority, “Bhure Lal will soon submit a report to the Supreme Court and action as per contract will follow,” Surjewala said.
The 135.6 kilometer long WPE — also known as the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway—was envisaged to provide ‘bypass’ to an estimated two million vehicles which enter Delhi from North at Kundli via national highway (NH) one and go to South Delhi to join NH2 at Faridabad, otherwise known as the Delhi Kolkata road. The road would also provide a bypass to vehicles, which are headed for NH8 (Delhi Mumbai highway) from North Delhi.
- The Sunday Standard