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PMO refuses to open incomplete expressways 
Date: 30 Apr 2018

The much-hyped commissioning of the ambitious Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) and Delhi leg of the Meerut Expressway could not take place on Sunday. The fifth such failure to meet the deadline came after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) pointed to non-completion of some civil and beautification works. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to commission to Expressways on Sunday.

Sources in the Road Transport and Highways Ministry said the PMO reportedly declined to give the nod citing incomplete works on both the stretches.

“While Meerut Expressway or NH 24/NH-9 has a segregation problem across the Pandav Nagar in East Delhi, a Rail Over Bridge (RoB) over the EPE in Meerut is yet to be completed and handed over technically. The Ministry had thought to get both the Expressways inaugurated by the Prime Minister simultaneously,” sources in the Ministry said.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari early this month had announced that the Prime Minister would inaugurate the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and Delhi-Dasna Meerut Expressway on April 29. Gadkari had also announced that the Delhi-Meerut Expressway inauguration would be done through a roadshow.  After making the big announcement, the Minister had inspected both the Expressways along with top Road Ministry and NHAI officials and the concessionaries of the project, which has been in news for many years. Gadkari has personally taken stock of works on both the projects and visiting the sites almost four times in the last few months.

The PMO has already taken cognizance of the slow pace of progress of the National Highways (NHs) projects. As against the Centre’s target of 15,000 km construction of NHs, only 7,589 km could be completed till the end of March 2018.

The 135-km-long EPE envisages signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal and ultimately decongest the national Capital.

Under phase-II of the Meerut Expressway a stretch of about 20 km from Delhi border to Dasna would be developed, while Phase-III will involve six-laning of NH-24 for 22.27 km Dasna to Hapur. Phase-IV will be for 31.70 km of new greenfield alignment from Dasna to Meerut. On completion Chambal Expressway would be connected to this Delhi-Mumbai Expressway to benefit States like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan via Gurugram.

The Prime Minister had laid the foundation stone of the Rs 7,566-crore Meerut Expressway on December 31, 2015, and thereafter, he has been personally monitoring the project and it had also cost the job of a NHAI Chairman on the reasons of delay.

In a zeal to decongest Delhi, the Centre has outlined 10 projects costing Rs 35,600 crore which include the EPE and Western Peripheral Expressways around Delhi. A signal-free corridor from Dhaula Kuan to Airport has just been awarded at a cost of Rs 260 crore while an eight-lane fully access-controlled Dwarka Expressway is too be developed in four packages.

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