With the inauguration of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway last month, the Western Peripheral Expressway can now hope for better days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Eastern Peripheral Expressway to the country after completion of work in a record low time, but construction work on the Western Peripheral Expressway has been delayed for nine years. Jagat Singh, a former official at the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, told The Sunday Guardian: “The Western Expressway should have been ready in 2009. This situation has prevailed even after the Modi government had fixed the deadline for construction of the Western Peripheral Expressway, but nothing has happened since then.”
The government has promised to complete the Western Peripheral project and a new deadline for construction of the Western Peripheral Expressway is still due on 30 August 2018. Following a Supreme Court direction in 2005, the plan for building of two corridors — the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and the Western Peripheral Expressway — was conceived to decongest Delhi and reduce pollution in the city. However, since then, work on both corridors was pending. The Eastern Peripheral Expressway covers the Kondli-Manesar-Palwal route, whereas after completion, the Western Peripheral Expressway will cover the Palwal-Ghaziabad-Kondli route. In 2016, construction work of the Western Peripheral Expressway was handed over to the Haryana government’s Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited and a deadline of 2009 was fixed for completion of work, but the project couldn’t take off.
After coming to power in 2014, the Modi government decided to complete work on both the peripheral expressways and a new deadline of March 2015 was set. Old contracts were cancelled and new contracts of Rs 1,863 crore were allotted. In April 2016, work on the Manesar stretch was completed from Palwal, at a cost of about Rs 457.81 crore. On the day of inauguration, Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had announced that construction work on the Western Expressway will be completed in 400 days, but since then, work has remained standstill.
Singh said: “The construction of the Western Peripheral Expressway will bring great relief to Delhi-NCR, as almost two lakh heavy vehicles will be off the roads from Delhi, leading to reduction in the pollution level in the city.”