Western Peripheral Expressway : Another project started and delayed by Congress government, completed by BJP government

Due to repeated delays, the earlier contract for the project was terminated

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kundli-Manesar–Palwal (KMP) Expressway or the Western Peripheral Expressway. Along with the Eastern Peripheral Expressway that was opened in May this year, this expressway will form the largest Ring Road around Delhi. It is estimated that after this route is opened, this will divert around 50,000 heavy vehicles from Delhi, which will help in reducing air pollution and traffic congestion in the city.

When Modi inaugurates the expressway, we know what will be the reaction of some Congress leaders and some darbari journalists. They will say, Modi is taking credit for a project started by the Congress government. But the fact is, this expressway joins the long list of projects started and then abandoned by past Congress governments, which were revived and completed by current BJP government.

The 135 km long Expressway took 15 long years to complete. The Western Peripheral Expressway was first proposed in 2003 along with Delhi Eastern Peripheral Expressway. It was planned as a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) project to construct an access controlled four-lane expressway from NH 1 near Kundli in Sonipat to NH 2 at Palwal near Faridabad. The Haryana government began work on the expressway in 2005, and the contract was awarded to KMP Expressways Ltd. KMP was a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of DS Constructions, Madhucon Projects and Apollo Enterprises. The expressway was to be completed by 2009.

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But the progress in the project was slow, and after missing its initial deadline of 2009, it also missed its extended deadlines. In 2012 a tri-party meeting among Haryana government, Delhi government and the developer was held and a new deadline of May 2013 was fixed. At the same time, Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) imposed a penalty on KMP Expressways Ltd for the delay in construction. Refusing to pay penalty, KMP took the matter to court, and the project got stalled.

Meanwhile, the developer was also defaulting in its obligations to its bankers, and the lenders led by IDBI Bank had issued a substitution notice owing to this. This means the lenders had sought a replacement of the developer due to defaults. Following this, The Congress government in Haryana terminated the contract in 2014. KMP Expressways sought ₹1300 crore against its claimed investment in the project, which was contested by the government.

After coming to power in 2014, the BJP government in Haryana decided to restart the project. By this time, the Supreme Court had also stepped in and directed Haryana government to expedite the project in 2015. The BJP government upgraded the project to a six-lane expressway, against the original plan of four-lane. In 2016, Essel Infrastructure won the contract to complete the project, with a deadline to complete it by February 2019.

In 2016, the 53 km long stretch of the route between Manesar and Palwal was opened for public use. The road cuts across four major national highways, NH 1, NH 2, NH 8 and NH 10.

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