Eastern Peripheral Expressway work stalled due to lack of security: NHAI to SC

[] The National Highways Authority of India has told the Supreme Court that construction work of a 24.5-km stretch of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway in Ghaziabad, has been stranded as the UP Police has not given them protection despite the court’s order

Protests from farmers at the construction site has stalled work on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway in Ghaziabad, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has informed the Supreme Court, adding that although the apex court had asked the Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh to look into the issue of providing security for the work, nothing has been done.

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The 135-km-long Eastern Peripheral Expressway envisages providing signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, countered the NHAI’s submission and said that in a recent meeting held between the officials of NHAI and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the authority has said that they have taken up the matter with the UP police chief, who has assured assistance.

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NHAI’s counsel told a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that Ghaziabad’s senior superintendent of police (SSP) should be summoned, to explain why no protection was provided to officials and workers at the site.

The counsel said they had told the apex court that work would be completed by March 2018 but due to the protest, the construction has been stalled. To this, the bench said, “We had requested the DGP to look into the matter. If the DGP is not able to do it, what can the SSP do?”

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Regarding other issues raised by the NHAI, including handing over of land at Sonepat district in Haryana, the solicitor general said that the affidavit filed by them takes care of these aspects. When the NHAI counsel raised the issue of handing over of land by the Haryana government, the bench said, “Is it supposed to be our job? It is not our job to tell Haryana to do it.” The solicitor general told the bench that he would file a detailed status report and an affidavit will be filed on behalf of the Ministry of Road and Highways in the matter. The court has fixed the matter for hearing on May 1, 2017.

The apex court had earlier asked the DGP of UP to look into the issue of providing security for construction work of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, after the work in the 41-km patch in Gautam Budh Nagar district was forcibly stopped by farmers. The bench was told that farmers and local villagers have forcibly prevented construction work in the stretch from December 25, 2016 and no steps were taken by the police, despite the request to provide protection at the site.

Regarding the 135-km-long Western Peripheral Expressway, which connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana, the court was told that the stretch from Palwal to Manesar was ready, while the portion from Manesar to Kundli was under construction. The court, which has been hearing a 1985 PIL filed by environmentalist MC Mehta, on issues including vehicular pollution, had asked the centre in 2005 to build a peripheral expressway around Delhi by July 2016, to decongest and de-pollute the national capital. The two expressways — each around 135 kms long — were planned in 2006, following the Supreme Court order to form a ring road outside Delhi, for channeling non-Delhi bound traffic bypassing the national capital.

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