Gurgaon’s Roads Struggle to Cope
Over the years Gurgaon has managed to woo the best and stay ahead of real estate destinations like Noida and Greater Noida. Home to the posh and powerful, the city’s skyline has been transformed by towering high-rises. But daily life in the millennium city is a whole different story. Connectivity and movement of traffic is a grind with Gurgaon’s existing roads and infrastructure simply failing to cope with its fast-growing population.
But that was not always the case. Three crucial lifelines – The Dwarka Expressway, the Southern Peripheral Road and the Northern Peripheral Road – were supposed to improve connectivity among the emerging residential sectors of Gurgaon with the 18km Dwarka Expressway connecting 33,000 residential units coming up across the 20 sectors between Delhi and New Gurgaon. The Southern Peripheral Road on the other hand was to connect the Golf Course Extension road to NH 8, intersecting Sohna Road and running through Sectors 68-76 of Gurgaon which has over 70 residential projects by top developers. However, these critical projects stand unfinished and have remained so over the past 7 years.
Where did it all go wrong?
The answer is a combination of improper planning and a lack of funds. The paths that these roads would take were proposed without proper field surveys and this has led to bitter legal battles with farmers who own land along these routes. When the legal go-ahead finally came through, the Haryana Urban Development Authority or HUDA delivered a shocker, claiming it had no money to compensate the ousted farmers, thus leaving the roads half-done. And it is unlikely that this crucial funding will be received any time soon, with the authority’s efforts so far having failed.
“HUDA does not have money at this point of time. We tried auctioning some shops, commercial plots, hotel sites but there was no response. We are trying again. In the past 10 years earlier governments have simply benefited the builders and never focused on acquiring HUDA sectors. Which is why HUDA has no money,” admitted Rao Narbir Singh, the Minister for PWD (Public Works Department), Government of Haryana told NDTV.
A major reason why HUDA’s kitty has gone dry is that fact that several developers have not paid External Development Charges (EDC). According official estimates, out of a total of Rs 35,000 crores that should have been collected, developers have so far paid only around Rs 12,000 crore.
Government swings into action
The government is taking steps to ensure that the remaining EDC amount is collected, with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khatter scheduled to meet developers this Saturday to urge them to make the payments at the earliest.
There is hope that the government will take the matter seriously, especially since Chief Minister Khattar has a personal stake in ensuring Gurgaon’s stalled infrastructure projects are completed quickly. That’s because the city is slated to host the Happening Haryana Global Investor Summit in March of this year, with investors, decision makers and senior government officials descending on the city to explore investment opportunities in the state. The government can ill-afford to let Gurgaon’s infrastructure woes spoil the mood. Now the big question is, will developers be able to pay up? And will the government and HUDA be able to ensure the completion of these projects in time?
Oineetom Ojha, Senior Correspondent, NDTV