NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today expressed concern over the delay in the completion of the Signature Bridge across the river Yamuna and said it deserved scrutiny at the highest level.
The court asked the Delhi chief secretary to hold a meeting with all stakeholders to take stock of the situation.
"Given the delay in the execution of the work, we are of the view that the execution of work and completion of the bridge deserve scrutiny at the highest level," a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said.
The court's direction came while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by advocate Pratibha Chopra, who pointed to the inordinate delay in the project and alleged the construction of the bridge had missed several deadlines since 2011.
The court noted that for its construction, a memorandum of understanding was signed on August 27, 2004, and the preliminary estimate of Rs 544 crore was given by the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC), the agency responsible for the project.
According to DTTDC, there was a significant hike in the cost of construction and in an affidavit of November, 2017, it said the cost had been enhanced to Rs 1,575 crore.
The court noted that Rs 1,334.
10 crore had already been paid to DTTDC by the Delhi government but the bridge was still nowhere near completion.
It was informed by the DTTDC that subject to the payment of Rs 250 crore, the work would be completed by June this year.
The bridge connects Delhi with Uttar Pradesh's industrial areas such as the Tronica city in Ghaziabad.
The court had earlier wished to know the variation in costs incurred over the bridge from the time the project was envisaged.
It had also sought information from the Delhi government on when the timeline was changed or extended.
The Delhi government's Urban Development department and the Public Works department had earlier informed the court that they had sent to the DCP traffic a request letter for a joint site inspection and working out a diversion plan for vehicular traffic.
Announced in 2004, the project received a nod from the Delhi Cabinet in 2007 and was initially expected to be completed at a modified estimate of Rs 1,131 crore by the Commonwealth Games held here in October, 2010.
In 2015, the cost of the project rose to Rs 1,594 crore.
Reportedly, the bridge was proposed for the first time as early as in 1997 at an initial cost pegged at Rs 464 crore.
The Signature Bridge, when completed, is expected to share the burden of vehicular traffic which is being borne by the Wazirabad bridge.
Seeking to expedite the completion of construction, the plea has contended that lives of lakhs of commuters, who are regularly stranded for over 3-4 hours a day on the Wazirabad bridge, are at a risk as it is an old and ageing bridge which can cave in anytime.
A tragedy is waiting to happen, the plea has said and added that the proposed Signature Bridge will positively change traffic conditions on both sides of the Yamuna and benefit the people.
The plea said to avoid any tragic fallout, the agencies should complete the project or else they should be ready to take the responsibility in case of any mishap.
According to the government, the Signature Bridge had obtained environmental clearance in 2011 and was set to be completed by December, 2013.
The date of completion was pushed to June, 2016, and then to July, 2017, which was further pushed to December, 2017, and is now expected to be delayed further.