File response on cost-sharing on expressways: SC to Delhi govt

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Delhi government to file a proper affidavit clarifying its response on the issues related to the cost-sharing for the eastern and western peripheral expressways, both 135 km each, aimed at de-congesting traffic in the national capital.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra asked the Delhi government to file its response within 10 days.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Delhi government, said the government had already paid its share when the apex court passed an order in 2005 on these expressways, the cost of which was projected to be Rs 800 crore while it inflated to be in excess of Rs 8,000 crore later. He insisted that the government’s budgetary allocations are very limited.

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“The beneficiaries of the expressways are Uttar Pradesh and Haryana as they are developing townships along the expressway. I have already paid around Rs 700 crore, don’t want to pay anything more…”, Rohatgi said before the court on behalf of the Delhi government.

Rohatgi informed the court that the Delhi government collected Rs 900 crore, under environmental cess, and these funds have been secured for the purchase of electric buses. The Haryana counsel said it has already paid 25 per cent of the cost.

The amicus curiae informed the court that the Uttar Pradesh government deposited around Rs 1,200 crore, the 25 per cent share.

The amicus cited the land acquisition for both expressways was estimated at Rs 844 crore, and later it increased to Rs 8,462.03 crore. The Cabinet Secretary’s report, accepted by the court in February 2005, established the cost sharing formula for the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in the proportion of 50:25:25.

In October, the apex court had asked the Delhi government to release Rs 1,000 crore out of its pending share. The Centre told the court that the Delhi government must pay its dues of over Rs 3,500 crore.

The eastern peripheral expressway provides signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal. And, the western peripheral expressway connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana.

The Centre through the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) said as per the court order a meeting of the committee of secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary was convened on November 11.

The committee recommended that the Delhi government must pay its dues without fail including the immediate payment of Rs 1,000 crore. According to the Centre, the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh governments are yet to deposit their shares of Rs 3,668.21 crore and Rs 63.47 crore respectively.

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