New Delhi, May 11: Expressing its displeasure over the delay in inaugurating the newly constructed Eastern Peripheral Expressway, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to ensure that the newly constructed Eastern Peripheral Expressway is inaugurated on or before May 31, failing which, it said, the road would stand open to the public from June 1. The Apex Court added that any delay was not in the interest of the people of Delhi.
According to a report by PTI, the direction was issued by a bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta, which was hearing petitions on rising pollution levels in the capital. The 135-km high-speed corridor, which is ready now, was expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April. Reports inform that the NHAI counsel told the court that the expressway was scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 29 but it could not be done due to his prior commitments. Upset over the delay, the Supreme Court asked, “Why was it not done then?”.
Meanwhile, the bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, hearing a case relating to Delhi Pollution said. “Why are we waiting for the Prime Minister to inaugurate it?”. The bench said Delhi is already under traffic distress and any delays will not be in the interest of the people. The Supreme Court noted that the Meghalaya High Court has been working for five years without an official inauguration and said, "why should the Eastern Corridor wait".
The 135-km Expressway, aimed at decongesting Delhi envisages signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal. The Apex Court said that it has not being thrown open to the public despite being informed earlier that it would be inaugurated by April 20. The Expressway plan was among few measures taken by the government to handle Delhi's pollution issue. The six-lane expressway aims to allow about two lakh vehicles, including trucks and commercial traffic, to bypass the national capital.
To recall, the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways were planned in 2006 following the top court's order to build a ring road outside the national capital for channelling non-Delhi bound traffic. The apex court had asked the Centre in 2005 to build a peripheral expressway around Delhi by July 2016 to decongest and "de-pollute" the national capital. The work on the Western Peripheral Expressway, which connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana, was to be completed by February 2019 but the construction would be done by June this year, the counsel said.