The Supreme Court on May 10 directed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to throw open the six-lane Eastern Peripheral Expressway on or before May 31, saying that the inauguration by Prime Minister, which was earlier planned on April 29, cannot wait indefinitely.
The Bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta gave its verdict after it was informed by NHAI that the construction of the expressway was complete.
The Bench said, “Why was it not done then? Why are we waiting for the Prime Minister to inaugurate it?”
The bench also gave the example of Meghalaya High Court which has been operating for five years without official inauguration.
Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport & Highways, however, said that the delay in the inauguration is due to the incomplete construction of railway over the bridge and that the expressway will be inaugurated once it is completed.
Delhi reels under immense traffic problems. The construction of 135-km Eastern expressway along with the western peripheral corridor was planned in 2006 after the top court ordered to build a ring road outside the national capital in order to divert non-Delhi bound traffic. The construction of the Rs 5,763 crore expressway began after much delay in 2015. The government had set a deadline of 400 days to complete the project.
It is a signal-free expressway that passes through Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. This expressway would route the traffic from Jaipur to bypass Delhi to head towards Uttarakhand, Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The vehicles coming from other directions can also bypass Delhi through this corridor.
It is being said that the delay in the inauguration by the Prime Minister was due to his UK and China tour. Soon after finishing the tours, PM Modi dived into extensive campaigning for the upcoming Karnataka elections. The campaigning for the Karnataka elections has been so intense that several issues like setting up of Cauvery Management Board to resolve the Cauvery water distribution issue between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has been put on the backburner. Recently, SC had pulled up Centre on this matter saying PM Modi and other ministers “are busy with Karnataka polls and can’t take decision on Cauvery dispute.”