NHAI, Haryana delay peripheral e-ways, green court sees red
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has pulled up the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Haryana government for excessive delay in the construction of Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways, which will ease traffic congestion in the national Capital.
“You are into this since 2008, still you have not commenced work. Tenders are yet to be floated. What kind of efficiency is that? You are an expert body for building roads and this is what you are doing. Does it speak well of your organisation?” said a Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, slamming the NHAI.
It added: “This is something very bad. You keep on giving undertakings to courts. When will you finalise the award of contract? You cannot put at stake the life of people.”
The Tribunal was hearing a case of air pollution in the national Capital.
The construction of Eastern Peripheral Expressway is being carried out by the NHAI, while work on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) or Western Peripheral Expressway is being handled by the Haryana government.
The Haryana government informed the Bench that work on the 52-km Kundli-Manesar section has been initiated and would be completed by January, 2016.
“You have taken years to decide whether a contract should be given or not. Today, there are machines for everything. Nobody thinks of that... The highest court of India has given you orders and still you are reluctant. The Supreme Court has been very kind, we will push it harder,” the Bench observed, after NHAI officials said that the expressway is likely to be completed by July, 2018.
The green panel, which has set a one-year deadline for the disposal of cases relating to environmental issues, said that considerable time has passed since the Supreme Court order and now it wants the matter to come to the “final stage”.
Expressing anguish over delay in completing the projects, the Tribunal said: “We have to get things going or” heads must roll.”
Noting that diesel is the prime source of air pollution in Delhi, the tribunal had on April 7 this year held that all diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old would not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR. On November 26, 2014, it had banned plying of all diesel and petrol vehicles, which were more than 15 years old.
The Supreme Court had on January 30 this year allowed the Haryana government to issue fresh tenders for the construction of Western Peripheral Expressway around Delhi, and said all pending disputes between the old concessionaire and the authorities would be decided through arbitration.
“We grant two months to Haryana to award contracts and another one month to start work at the Expressway. We will not extend this time limit,” the Apex Court had said and asked the government not to indulge in blame-game on grounds of change of regime.