Govt. threatens contract termination

NEW DELHI, MARCH 3. The controversy surrounding the execution of the Rs. 62 crore prestigious Dhaula Kuan flyover-cum-underpass project on the Delhi-Gurgaon road is all set to take an ugly turn. Peeved over the irresponsible attitude of the U.P. State Bridge Corporation (UPSBC), the Delhi Government has now "threatened to revoke" the contract and hand over the remaining part of the work to some other agency for completion of the ill-fated project.

In view of the latest development, the flyover-cum-underpass project is not likely to be thrown open for full traffic by the end of May this year. It is for the fourth time in a row that the deadline for the completion of the project had been extended due to some reason or the other. This bad experience at the hands of the U.P. State Bridge Corporation (UPSBC) continues to haunt the Public Works Department of the Delhi Government offers little for lakhs of motorists and daily commuters. The long queues of vehicles, traffic snarl ups and inconsistent flow of traffic along the Gurgaon-Dhaula Kuan roundabout and on the Ring Road stretch extending from Naraina towards Moti Bagh and also in the opposite direction will continue to haunt the motorists for sometime to come. "We are not happy with the attitude of the UPSBC and if things do not work out, we will have no other alternative but to cancel the contract, remarked the PWD Minister, A.K. Walia.

Interestingly, unable to get the UPSBC moving, it is learnt that the Delhi Government is planning to approach the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Man Friday, Amar Singh, to get things going and bring around the truant organisation.

In fact, what has upset the Delhi Government as well as Dr. Walia is that the UPSBC had recently given its consent to complete the project by the end of May after it was offered a bail out package by the Delhi Government.

Under the agreement, it was decided that the Delhi Government would release a grant of Rs. 4 crores to the UPSBC in instalments with the promise that the work on the project would be commenced immediately. However, the UPSBC is now reluctant to honour the agreement and as a result, work has come to a virtual standstill at the project site. What has derailed things is the change of guard in the Urban Development Department of Uttar Pradesh. The new Principal Secretary has not been very responsive and all the negotiations for completion of the project would have to be done all over again. "The project will not be completed according to the May deadline. It will be delayed further and things could even stretch to July and August. Our experience with UPSBC has been very bad and we may not offer them infrastructure projects in future," remarked an agitated Dr. Walia.

In fact, the situation is no better with regard to other projects also. For instance, the Britania Chowk flyover project, slated for completion in May, will now be stretched a few months more due to the failure of the Delhi Development Authority to carry out demolitions at the project site.

However, even the pace of work by PWD on this flyover project is pathetic and the end does not seem to be in sight in the near future. Interestingly, while laying the foundation stone of the project, the Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, had directed the PWD officials to complete the project before time to set a new record.

The situation is no better with regard to the Srinivaspuri-Lajpat Nagar flyover project in South Delhi. The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation had promised to open one carriageway of the project by October last year. However, even after lapse of six months from the deadline, there is little possibility of one side of the flyover being thrown open for traffic.