Monteks adviser blamed for delay in e-way project

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New Delhi: Montek Singh Ahluwalias adviser Gajen dra Haldea is not just in the eye of a storm involving the resignation of 16 highway engineers.

Several ministries from finance and highways to even the Planning Commission are accusing him of holding up the Eastern Peripheral Expressway around Delhi.

Official documents ac cessed by TOI show that Haldeas insistence on im posing a toll that is 1. times higher than the competing road project has horrendously delayed the award of the project by least six months.

The papers also allege that delaying this project would benefit the Western Peripheral Expressway, being developed by a private developer.

The two projects will come up on either side of the national Capital and are expected to considerably ease traffic in the city. Docu ments show that even in November, Haldea had favoured a higher toll rate and had opposed the normal rate claiming that the 135 km road was being developed as a bypass. He had mentioned that lowering toll rate would not benefit the public as this would lead to a higher government liability in the form of higher viability gap funding.

Sources in the highways ministry said the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure, while clearing the project, had mentioned that the expressway should be awarded with zero VGF An official note by Planning Commission member Sudha Pillai in September shows how despite every one agreeing to normal toll only Haldea pushed for higher rate.

In February, even the then highways secretary R S Gujral, who is now finance secretary, had said the road should be treated as a highway. Pillai had ear lier agreed with Haldea on treating the road as a bypass but agreed with Gujral view later. Then the CCI in April and PPP Appraisal Committee in May gave the nod to the projects.

Last December, NHAI and road ministry had said that Haldeas proposal of 1.5 times toll would make the EPE unviable and bring undue benefit to the WPE developer.



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