- The expansion of National Highway (NH) 24 continues to be delayed thanks to a lack of approvals. The project's foundation stone was laid in December 2015.
- Plan was to to widen the highway by constructing a 74-km long, 14-lane expressway between Delhi-Dasna-Merut, while upgrading the 22-kilometer long Dasna-Hapur stretch.
- PM Modi is disappointed over the slow pace of progress and is pulling up the authorities as well the infrastructure companies for not executing the project on time.
DELHI: The expansion of National Highway (NH) 24 continues to be on the backburner despite the Prime Minister’s office taking personal interest in the case. In fact, an NDTV status check of the crucial highway revealed that it continues to remain a traffic bottleneck, inconveniencing many residents who live in the area.
Approval Delays Dogs Project
NH24 connects parts of Ghaziabad, Noida and Delhi and is considered a lifeline to thousands of people living in these areas. However, urbanization and a rising population have put a lot of strain on the road, with traffic jams being an almost daily affair.
To avoid this, the government decided to widen the highway through the construction of a 74-kilometer long, 14-lane expressway between Delhi-Dasna-Merut while upgrading the 22-kilometer long Dasna-Hapur stretch. The foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister Modi in December 2015, giving hope to many that the work on the project would begin soon.
However, almost a year later – the Rs 7,566 Crore expansion of NH 24 has still not taken off.
“For the last 3 years, there has been no improvement at all. Congestion & traffic jams remains the same,” says Kapil Kumar, a resident of Ghaziabad. “So it's just news that some development is happening or will happen. When will it happen? No one knows about it,” he laments.
The expansion project is divided into four packages of which only Package-I and Package-III have been awarded. The third package is pending approval from the cabinet, while the Greenfield stretch between Dasna and Meerut is awaiting permissions. The road authorities are also waiting for the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) nod for building bridges on the Yamuna floodplain.
PM Modi Slams Authorities For Delay
Speaking exclusively to NDTV, Raghav Chandra, Chairman of the National Highway Authority of India said “We are trying to work around regulatory hurdles to start the project. The case is pending before the National Green Tribunal. We also expect removal of encroachments and rehabilitation of 500-odd slums to start the expansion process.”
However, experts suggest that the current situation could have been mitigated. "The approvals from NGT and utility shifting have not been taken in advance. Even the approvals considered during project preparation stage are quite dated,” says Adil Zaidi, partner at EY. “If permissions were taken well in time, the development in the corridor would have been really different.”
The delayed progress has put immense pressure on both authorities as well as developers along NH 24. Manoj Jain, director of real estate group Saya says, “Customers are expecting that they will get NH24 on their steps by the time they get their project handover, but it remains a dream for them.”
Sources tell NDTV that the Prime Minister is disappointed over the slow pace of progress on construction and is cracking the whip, pulling up the road and highway authorities as well the infrastructure companies for not executing the project on time.
Edited By Nikhil Narayan Sivadas