New Delhi: Commuters travelling between Gurugram and Delhi will have to wait for around 18 more months to get a respite from long traffic snarls, with work on the 29-km Dwarka Expressway likely to be finally completed by September 2020. The eight-lane access-controlled highway has been in the making for the last 15 years.
Senior officials in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) told ThePrint that while a segment of the expressway in Haryana is likely to be completed by August this year, work on the Delhi portion is likely to get over by September 2022.
Also called the Northern Peripheral Road, the project was first proposed by the Haryana government in 2006. It was divided into four parts — two phases comprising the Delhi portion of the expressway, and the remaining two comprising the Haryana portion.
The 29-km highway — 18.9 km in Haryana and 10.1 km in Delhi — will start from Shiv Murti in Mahipalpur, pass through Dwarka Sector 21 and Gurugram border and end at Kherki Dhaula.
Providing an alternate road link between Gurugram and Delhi, the Rs 9,000-crore expressway promises to not only decongest traffic on the existing Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, but also ensure better connectivity between Dwarka and parts of south Delhi such as Vasant Kunj, among others.
The tender for the Haryana phase of the project was given to Larsen & Toubro, while the Delhi phase to J Kumar Infra Projects.
A senior NHAI official, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint the Delhi-Gurgaon section of NH-8, which is a part of the Delhi-Jaipur-Ahmedabad-Mumbai arm of the Golden Quadrilateral, has over 3 lakh passenger cars plying every day.
“This is much beyond the design capacity of this 8-lane highway, leading to severe congestion,” the official said.
A second NHAI official said the project came to the NHAI in 2017 as there were coordination problems between the Haryana and Delhi governments over land acquisition and they could not settle the matter among themselves.
He told ThePrint that work pertaining to the Haryana portion began in November 2019, while work for the Delhi portion began as recently as September 2020.
“We are giving a two-year time frame for completion of projects since the work began. Therefore, the Haryana portion of the Dwarka Expressway should be completed by August 2021, while the Delhi portion should be completed by September 2022,” said the official quoted first.
Benefits of the Dwarka Expressway
Among the main benefits of the Dwarka Expressway is curtailing traffic snarls on NH-8, and to ensure better connectivity between Dwarka and parts of south Delhi.
The senior NHAI official explained that the expressway would also provide relief to the incoming traffic on the National Highway-1 — which links New Delhi to Attari near the India-Pakistan border in Punjab — that comes from parts of Punjab and Haryana.
“This new Dwarka Expressway will decrease the load on NH-1, and it will become more decongested. Additionally, it will also provide direct connectivity to the airport,” he added.
NHAI sources said there will also be a over 5-km-long road under-bridge as part of the expressway, which would provide direct connectivity to Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Of the 29-km stretch of the expressway, 23 km will either be elevated or under tunnels.
The official said the Dwarka Expressway will, in a first, have an eight-lane road without dividers in one section of the Haryana portion, while the Delhi portion will have an eight-lane road with dividers.
He also said the Dwarka Expressway would lead to more job creation.
“It is a known fact that where highways go, development follows. This is the first time such a project is being done in an urban area.”
The official, however, added that the substantial benefits of the expressway would only be accrued when the entire project would be completed — in 2022.
The senior NHAI official explained that the Dwarka Expressway required a lot of labour-specialisation as it was a structure-intensive project.
The specialised training included bar-bending, and casting concrete elements, among others.
“This is an EPC project — Engineering, Procurement and Construction project,” he said.
NHAI sources said much of the time — from 2017 to 2019 — went into getting environmental clearances, forest clearances, tree transplants and land acquisition.
The work for the Haryana portion of the expressway, which began in November 2019, hit a roadblock in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus posed a different set of challenges as many labourers moved back to their villages due to the lockdown and work properly resumed only in July 2020.
“However, we are putting in all our efforts now and I am happy at the pace at which the expressway is being developed,” said the official.
The second NHAI official quoted above said the main challenges ever since the work resumed has been training the workers, and also complying with the Covid norms and operating within the prescribed safety guidelines.