Cave-ins on KMP e-way raise quality concerns

Around 15-20 complaints of cave-ins, mostly on the new Kundli-Manesar section was received over the last fortnight.

Around 15-20 complaints of cave-ins, mostly on the new Kundli-Manesar section was received over the last fortnight.   | Photo Credit: MANOJ KUMAR

Facility still lacks amenities like street lights, fuel stations, restrooms among others

Less than a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kundli-Manesar section of the 135-km-long Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway in November last year making it fully operational, several instances of cave-in have been reported on the stretch over the past few weeks raising doubts about the construction quality.

The road, with an average traffic of around 35,000 vehicles per day, still lacks basic amenities such as street light, fuel stations, restrooms, food joints and FASTag facility.

Nehru Singh, toll manager of Prakash Asphaltings & Toll Highways (India) Limited — the company that collects toll on the expressway — said he received around 15-20 complaints of cave-ins, mostly on the new Kundli-Manesar section, over the last fortnight. Mr. Singh said the traffic had remained disrupted near Panchgaon for more than two hours this past month after a cave-in. “The sand along the expressway was washed away at several points on the new section causing damage to the railings and the road,” said Mr. Singh.

Soil compaction

Pradeep Goyal, chief operating officer of Essel Infraprojects Limited — the construction company — said unlike other highways, the KMP was at a height of 4-5 feet above the ground and the soil in the area was sandy leading to the cave-ins. He said the process of compaction of the soil was expected to be complete by next monsoon and hoped that there would be no such instances next year.

Arshad, a truck driver, who usually takes the expressway on his way to Chennai from Sonipat, said there were no fuel stations and puncture shops on the road. He said it was dangerous to travel on the road at night since there were no lights and it had caved-in at several points.

‘Way Side Amenities’

Though four sites have been earmarked on the expressway for “Way Side Amenities” — fuel stations, restrooms and food joints — and six acre land is acquired for each, tender has been given only for one. “The tender was awarded to IOCL for a fuel station near Jhajjar (KM 47) a month ago for one of the sites and the construction has begun. We are in the process of allocating the remaining three sites as well. However, no decision has been taken on the bids for the food joints. The proposal is under consideration of our commercial and housing wing,” said a senior Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) official, not willing to be named.

Of the total vehicles using the road daily, around 13,500 are cars and 6,700 light commercial vehicles.

The rest of the traffic comprises trucks and multiple-axle vehicles. Indicating a surge in the traffic on the highway, the HSIIDC has given a fresh tender to R.K. Jain Infra Projects Private Limited for ₹56.65 lakh per day for toll collection a week ago for the next four months, which is almost double compared to ₹35 lakh tender in December last.

Besides, an electronic toll collection system —FASTag facility — is also not available to the commuters, leading to diversion of a large chunk of traffic to Eastern Peripheral Expressway.

The HSIIDC official said the FASTag system would be installed after the tender for tolling is granted for a longer period. “Installing a FASTag facility is the responsibility of the toll collection agency. Since the tenders are now given only for a few months, it is not financially viable for the agency to install the system,” said the official.

Traffic to increase

The tenders are now given for a short period, ranging from 3-4 months, in view of the gradual increase in traffic. The traffic is expected to increase steeply for the next six months before the growth settles down.

Mr. Goyal said lampposts were erected on the Kundli-Manesar section and electricity connection was awaited. He hoped that electricity would be available by next fortnight. Mr. Goyal said that electricity was already provided on the loops with the help of generator sets.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 6:58:35 PM |

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