NH-8 work hangs in balance after goof-up

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JAIPUR: The politics of one-upmanship and blame game between stakeholders in widening the Jaipur-Gurgaon stretch of NH 8 has delayed the project making lives of commuters miserable. It now hangs in the balance of uncertainty.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had issued notice of intention to terminate the project on February 11, which was a result of series of mismanagement on part of concessionaire, Rajasthan government and NHAI.

Initially, infighting between two senior Congress leaders, CP Joshi and Ashok Gehlot marred the widening of highway. Both leaders in an attempt to show their supremacy were involved in a war of words. Gehlot, in November 2012, as the then chief minister of Rajasthan wrote several letters holding the ministry responsible for the delay. Joshi, a former highway minister in rebuke highlighted how the state failed to provide land needed for construction in December same year.

Meanwhile, developer Pink City Express Pvt. Limited (PCEPL) decelerates the construction citing the unavailability of funds and land. Company officials claimed banks refused to infuse loan when they failed to show the available land for pursuing ongoing work. “Consortium of banks after raising their concerns over the delay and unavailability of land for construction blocked the payment,” said senior official of PCEPL.

He added, “As per the rules, with the completion of 50% work in the project the concessionaire should have 100% land availability. However, 75% work of on the Jaipur-Gurgaon stretch had been completed but possession of land is still incomplete at many places,” claimed the official.

The state government in its defense questioned the intention of developer and role of NHAI and central government. “Mistakes were certainly committed by the previous government. But NHAI and developer falsely blamed the state government on many occasions. They need 70,000 sq meter land out of which Rajasthan government has provided them with 65,000 sq meters. However till date, they are being able to use only 39,000 sq meters,” said Yoonus Khan, state PWD minister.

Officials of the department also alleged that the facts presented by NHAI for cause of delay are misleading.

“They kept saying that 17 religious structures are falling on the way and should be relocated. When we went to these locations not a single structure was coming under the widening of the six lanes,” said an official from the department.

The project has received sharp criticism from several quarters. Governor Margaret Alva has already asked the minister for road transport and highways Oscar Fernandes to look into the matter. After governor’s prod minister gauged on the ground situation by traveling from Delhi to Jaipur on road last September. Yet the situation is far from relieving for the commuters, who pay toll for a certain standard of service, but deprived of speedy travelling.



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