Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway project has made just over 68 per cent physical progress since its commencement in 2006 and it missed the latest May 31, 2013, deadline for completion.

Already running four years behind schedule, the ambitious 135.65-km-long Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway project has made just over 68 per cent physical progress since its commencement in 2006 and no major work has been done over the past one-and-a-half year. And while it missed the latest May 31, 2013, deadline, no targeted date for completion has been set, casting doubts over the project seeing the light of day anytime soon.

Even as the future of the project hangs in balance, the concessionaire, M/s KMP Expressways Limited, of which DSC Limited is the main partner, and the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) are busy passing the buck. While the concessionaire said that the initial 18 months were lost in litigation by one of the consortium partners and some more time was lost in getting clearances and approvals from authorities such as clearances for relocation of high tension overhead transmission lines and IOCL pipes and in land acquisition issues, the HSIIDC spokesperson contended that the dispute between the partners was an internal matter and the concessionaire had committed that the litigation would not affect the project.

“So far as the delays in getting clearances and approvals are concerned, these things are to be arranged by the concessionaire as per the agreement. Still, the HSIIDC gave due support to the concessionaire in getting the approvals. It did not affect the progress of the project as sufficient working fronts were available with the concessionaire to achieve the progress of the work at any given point in time, yet it did not achieve the progress satisfactorily,” said the spokesperson.

The HSIIDC argued that the concessionaire did not honour the commitments made for the completion of the project despite monitoring by the Supreme Court-appointed committee.

“In a joint meeting of Haryana and Delhi Chief Ministers, convened by the Supreme Court-appointed EPCA committee chairman Bhure Lal on June 8, 2012, the concessionaire proposed to open the Manesar-Palwal section by September 30, 2012, and complete the Expressway by May 31, 2013. But it again failed to do so. Even the Manesar-Palwal section has achieved just 80 per cent physical progress so far.”

There were reports in a section of media earlier this year saying that IDBI, the lead lender of the project, had blamed the delay on low commitment level and poor financial health of the concessionaire.

“It will be incorrect to talk of poor financial health as we have already put in more than Rs.730 crore of our direct equity in the project. As debt inflow into the project slowed down, we were running the project from our own resources and all the cost overruns in terms of material, manpower, plant and equipment, fixed and variable overheads of various types have been funded by us. Over and above this, we have also repaid some of the principal amounts to the lenders as per schedule,” said the concessionaire spokesperson.

It is also alleged that that the concessionaire was not interested in completing the project as its financial interests in the Delhi-Gurgaon toll plaza clashed with it.

“DSC Limited is the main player in both the concessionaires handling the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway and KMP. If the KMP project is completed, traffic will be diverted from NH-8 to the new Expressway, leading to financial losses for DSC,” said a HSIIDC source.

The concessionaire denied the allegations. “The two projects are financially independent as they are floated under separate SPVs. Also in terms of traffic flow patterns, the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway primarily caters to daily urban traffic between Delhi and Gurgaon, whereas KMP will cater to long-distance heavy traffic.”

Amid allegations and counter-allegations, the fact remains that the cost of the project has increased monumentally from the original Rs.1,915 crore at the cost of the tax payers money. And while the HSIIDC is busy “exploring ways and means for early completion” of the project, the concessionaire seems to have a free run.

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