Why PM Modi refused to inaugurate Delhi's Eastern Peripheral Expressway?

Photo: Dalip Kumar
A seamless drive on the much-awaited Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) connecting Palwal and Kundli in Haryana via Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, bypassing the congested national capital region may take longer than expected as the Union government’s ambitious project is far from done.

The 135-km long expressway, when entered from Palwal looks, nothing short of a world-class highway. It would provide a much-needed breather to the average commuter, who currently grapples with massive traffic snarls and congestion while entering and exiting the national capital.

However, barely a few hundred metres' drive on the expressway, one can see cables strewn all over the road, to be laid for internet services. 

The path now is a zig-zag one, thanks to the boulders that block the drive now and then. Traffic is sparse as many commuters are unaware of the “so-called” completion of the project but somehow managed to get onto the highway.

Drive on and it is hard not to notice the absence of electricity poles on the way, although arrangements for solar panels to be set up for powering electricity lamps are in place.

When asked about the project’s progress from a worker, he said, “It is hardly any work. It would be completed in another 10-15 days.”

“By the end of this month the project would be complete,” said another.

On the Palwal-Ghaziabad section of the highway, which is roughly half of the total project length, one can easily spot several unfinished patches of work and some of the slip-roads connecting Noida and Greater Noida are still under construction.

Photo: Dalip Kumar

Incomplete cable work, heavy earth moving equipment and labour engaged in the last leg of construction is a common sight every few hundred metres on the expressway till the Ghaziabad section. Even though the Palwal-Ghaziabad section of the highway is yet to get its share of electricity poles, the Ghaziabad-Kundli section of the project is dotted with them. It has a fair amount of landscaping throughout its length, till it merges with the National Highway 1 on the GT Karnal road.

Another glaring miss on the Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal highway, with only a handful of slip roads at least 10-15 km apart, are the public amenities.

Wayside facilities like restrooms, rain shelters, drinking water fountains, petrol/CNG pumps and food joints were conspicuous by their absence on the 135 km-long expressway.

The drive between Ghaziabad and Kundli is a smooth one until it is interrupted by an under-construction toll facility at the Kundli entry point.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to inaugurate the expressway last week but his office cancelled at the last minute, citing the project's incompletion as being the reason.

It is learnt that the PMO has declined to inaugurate the project until the civil and beautification work is complete.

Photo: Dalip Kumar

EPE is part of the 271-km ring road being constructed around Delhi to decongest the city. The other half of the project is the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal section.

The project that has six packages is being executed by Sadbhav Engineering, Jaiprakash Associates, Ashoka Buildcon, Oriental Structure and Gayatri Projects. 

EPE envisages providing signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal Western Peripheral Expressway would connect Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana.

In 2016, the Delhi Government had moved a plea in the Supreme Court to issue a directive for completion of the two expressways in a time-bound manner.

The Delhi Government had said that 10 years after committing to the project, Delhi was bearing the brunt of the continued movement of traffic and pollution.

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