The latest deadline was March 2012 which has passed unmet, though breaking deadlines is not new for the 135 km long Kundli–Manesar–Palwal (KMP) Expressway which has been catching literal dust for the past five years. The expressway was planned to have become operational by June 2009, but even three years later the project lies incomplete. March 2013 has now been set as the new goal, with high probability of history repeating itself in missing this deadline too.
Experts say that the delay has further increased the expressway’s cost from Rs 3,500 crore to over Rs 4,500 crore. KMP expressway was materialised in theory in 2006 as the most critical highway project in Northern India that would not only provide better connectivity between Haryana and Delhi but ease the bypass traffic from the roads of the capital. When completed, the expressway will connect several highways leading to and passing through the National Capital. It would connect National Highway 1 at Kundli in north of Delhi, with NH 10 just north of Bahadurgarh, NH 8 south of Manesar in Gurgaon and NH 2 near Palwal.
The delay has not only dampened such high hopes but has also dented hopes for many industrialists and realtors who were betting high on the project. “If KMPE becomes 100 per cent operational, it would boost the infrastructural development in the region including transportation, electricity and water supply,” said Subhash Gupta, Vice President, Kundli Industrial Area. He further added that if these things are ensured, the Kundli Industrial Area would be able to enhance its annual revenue by around 200 per cent. The delay is hitting revenues of several industries operating in Noida also. According to Aditya Ghildiyal, Vice President, Association of Greater Noida Industries, “KMPE would increase the control inventory management of most of industries operating in Noida and the tractor industry will benefit the most from it. The expressway is expected to give impetus to the annual revenue generation of industries based in Noida by around 10 per cent as most of the big industries in Noida have their vendors based in Sonipat, Panipat and other cities of Haryana.” he said.
The biggest loss however has been incurred by the real estate developers who have been banking on the completion of this expressway. Sanjay Saund of CHD Developers says that KMPE was expected to make life easier for daily commuters between Sonipat to Gurgaon and Noida. “We were expecting Sonipat to develop as a new satellite city of New Delhi, but due to the delay, there are around 20,000 ready-to-shift flats lying vacant here,” he said. It is nothing short of comic that government’s slumber over this issue has broken only recently. According to a senior government official, the project concessionaire DSC Ltd has an outstanding loan of Rs 700 crore taken from banks. Upset over the unreasonable delay in reaching the target of commercial operation date, the Haryana government has also imposed a penalty at rate of 0.01 per cent of the total project cost per week on the concessionaire of the project.
But the woes for this jinxed project do not end here. Delhi government and Haryana government are bickering over the shared cost of land to be acquired for the project. Due to the delays in the land acquisition, the liability on the Delhi government has increased to Rs 1,110 crore against the original estimate of Rs 167 crore.
“The Delhi government can’t be made to pay for this high escalation just on the ground that this expressway will reduce environmental pollution. There will be another round of meeting at the chief-secretary level where Haryana will submit how much land it acquired only for the road. How can huge public exchequer be doled out to Haryana when this project will bring huge economic prosperity only to Haryana?” asked a source in the Delhi government. Till date, work on only 48 km of the 135 km stretch has been completed. The stretch is ready to become operational even as the work on the rest of the road is still in progress.