Millennium Post

Losing momentum

Development in Delhi has been put to sleep as infrastructure projects worth a whopping Rs 5,000 crore have lost momentum for want of an elected government. With the imposition of President’s rule, city dwellers are facing the brunt of a lazy administration as they have been left wondering about how to get rid of their problems. Political uncertainty to imposition of President’s Rule and slew of pending court cases, all , in varying degrees, have affected several mega projects that were set into motion by the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government. Some of these projects were under construction, while others were either at the conceptional stage or at consultant appointment level.

The previous government has worked at various projects, including the ambitious Signature Bridge at Wazirabad, Mono rail track from Shastri Park to Trilokpuri, Kalindi Kunj By Pass, Vikaspuri to Wazirabad Signal-free Corridors, Barapullah-Elevated Road-phase-3, the construction of second Carriageway at RTR flyover, construction of court premises at DDU Marg, decongestion of ITO Chowk etc. However, seven such projects may finally see completion as they are being taken up as top priority by the Delhi administration.

The litigation before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and back to back elections (assembly and Lok Sabha within a short span) delayed the Rs 2400 Crore project to make signal free road Corridor from Vikaspuri to Wazirabad for a year. The project, conceived as one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in Delhi, has been executed at a slower than expected. The project is only 20 per cent complete till date due to court cases in the NGT and imposition of President’s Rule.
‘The projects are running behind schedule due to court cases,’ said a PWD engineer.
The construction of the stretch was started in March 2013, by the Sheila Dikshit government and was scheduled to be completed by May 2015. The project was undertaken by the PWD to make the 17 km Vikaspuri-Wazirabad stretch signal free.

According to the NCT of Delhi Act, the minister is the head of the department and in the absence of ministers , there is no one to share the responsibility. Therefore, a delay in projects is bound to happen. Lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, who  met prime minister Narendra Modi recently, has given the go-ahead for cracking on major infrastructure projects in Delhi that have been pending for a while now. The cost overruns and delays in these game-changer projects have always been a serious issue, but none of the stakeholders have done anything about it so far.

It is no surprise that a few projects conceived decades ago are still stuck with no signs of nearing completion. The recurring delays and cost escalations have done a great deal of damage to the capital’s image. Many other Delhi projects that were supposed to be completed before the 2010 Commonwealth Games have not even been initiated yet. Projects such as construction of 24 underground parking lots across the city, construction of a number of foot over-bridges, scores of modern public toilets and many more have repeatedly missed deadlines.

The reasons for such delays are many. One of Delhi’s former chief secretaries attributes the delays to lack of a political will. ‘Lack of political commitment and willingness has caused huge losses to the exchequer in Delhi. One of the biggest mistakes has been starting construction before design and other project criteria are fully defined,’ he said on condition of anonymity. The officer said the main cause behind the delays is that the government and businessmen are caught in a frustrating cycle of waiting on each other. To push things in the right direction and to monitor projects worth over  Rs 5,000 crore that had lost crucial momentum, Jung has reviewed seven such projects and also visited the work sites. He has set new deadlines for these projects and expects the work to be done within the stipulated time frame.

Barapullah Elevated Corridor Ph-II
Work started: 2013
Estimated cost: `350 crore
Current cost: `450 crore
Work ork on the Barapullah Elevated Corridor (phase II) that will connect INA Market to Aurobindo Marg is going on at a snail’s pace due to activity at the Delhi Metro construction site nearby, say PWD officials. Phase-II was inaugurated in 2013, but just 20 per cent of the work has been completed
despite the deadline of March 2015. The 3.98 km-long extended elevated road will have a dual carriageway of nine metres each. The project may get delayed for want of permission from the Railways to cross a railway line at Kotla Mubarakpur. The project was proposed to connect
South Delhi with East Delhi and is being implemented in three phases. While the tendered amount is
`350 crore, the project cost is estimated to escalate to `450 crore.

Signature Bridge
Conceived in: 1997
Estimated cost: `459 crore
Current cost: `1,131 crore
The Signature Bridge, being built at Wazirabad in East Delhi at a cost of over Rs 1,100 crore, has missed several deadlines. The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation is executing the project that was first proposed in 1997. The bridge was supposed to be completed by the 2010 Commonwealth Games.  The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has slammed the corporation for its shoddy handling of the project. The report noted that delay in taking decisions by the state government has escalated the cost of the bridge by `672 crore. The estimated cost of the project was `459 crore in March 2006, but its current cost is `1,131. The cost of the project is expected to escalate further. The L-G has now fixed a new deadline of September 2014 for the project.

Sarita Vihar Underpass
Conceived in: 2008
Estimated cost: `127 crore
Current cost: `300 crore
The Sarita Vihar underpass was planned in 2008 to ensure seamless travel between Kalindi Kunj and Okhla Industrial Area. The underpass would reduce the distance between two locations to merely one kilometre from the existing nine km route. The project is being jointly executed by DDA and the Northern Railways. The road under bridge that passes under the Delhi-Mumbai rail lines, which is one of the busiest rail lines in India with more than 300 trains passing through the stretch daily, has been constructed by the Railways while the remaining portion of the project that includes the approach roads is yet to be constructed by the Delhi Development Authority.
However, the DDA had stalled its share of work citing technical issues. Work started in 2009 and the initial cost of the project has more than doubled from `127 crore to nearly `300 crore.

Vikaspuri to Wazirabad signal-free
Conceived in: 2013
Estimated cost:  `2,400 cr
Current cost: Expected to exceed by over 40 %
The project was undertaken by the Public Works Department in March 2013 to make the 17-km Vikaspuri-Wazirabad stretch signal-free. It was to be completed by May 2015 with an estimated cost of ` 2,400 crore. The PWD was to construct six flyovers between Meera Bagh and Wazirabad in the first phase. While work on the two elevated corridors was stymied due to environmental issues, work on four components—Vikaspuri-Meera Bagh; Mangolpuri-Madhuban Chowk; Madhuban Chowk to Mukarba Chowk and Mukarba Chowk to Wazirabad—is on but behind schedule. ‘Our deadline is May 2015. We are lagging behind,’ said a PWD official. Officials say the road was to be widened but that got affected due to restrictions on cutting trees. The delay will increase project cost by more than 40 per cent and the deadline would be increased by around two years, he added.

Rani Jhansi Flyover
Conceived in: 1998
Estimated cost: `177 crore
Current cost: `300 crore
Sixteen years after it was first conceived, the 1.8-km long Rani Jhansi Flyover that comes under North Municipal Corporation shows no sign of nearing completion. The project is intended to cover Rani Jhansi Road, Bara Hindu Rao, DCM Chowk, Azad Market and Baraf Khana Chowk to reach St Stephen’s Hospital. The original deadline for its completion was 2010. No new date was set after the deadline was missed. The idea was mooted in 1998, but work began only in November 2008. Due to the prolonged delay, the project cost has escalated from `177 crore to `300 crore.

Mandoli Jail Complex
Conceived in: 2008
Estimated cost: `168.51 cr
Current cost: `337 crore
The completion of an upcoming prison-complex in northeast Delhi’s Mandoli area has been delayed for the past few years. Mandoli, which can accommodate between 3,700 and 4,500 inmates, was scheduled to be functional by June last year.  The project was announced in 2008 and was expected to be ready by 2010. The Mandoli complex was planned to decongest Tihar prison. Due to delays, the cost of project has escalated from `168.51 crore to `337 crore.
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