No construction is being carried out in a 25 km stretch of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway in Ghaziabad due to protests by farmers and lack of police protection to the workers, the NHAI told the Supreme Court today. A bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, was informed by the counsel for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that since the construction activity has been stalled due to the farmers’ protest over land acquisition, they might miss the deadline for completing the work. The 135-km long Eastern Peripheral Expressway envisages signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal.
“No construction work is happening as the obstructions continue. We are not able to do construction in the 25 km stretch in Ghaziabad as no adequate police protection is there. We may not be able to comply with the deadline,” the NHAI’s counsel said. However, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said they had filed an affidavit and a status report on several issues, including land acquisition, and the Director General of Police (DGP) of Uttar Pradesh has apprised that there was no blockage on the stretch. The counsel appearing for the state also told the bench that police protection was given for the construction work.
During the hearing, the bench agreed to the request of NHAI’s counsel that Ghaziabad’s senior superintendent of police should be asked to explain why no adequate protection was provided to the officials and workers at the site. NHAI had earlier told the court that construction work in the stretch was stalled as the UP Police has not given them protection despite the apex court’s order.
The apex court had earlier asked the DGP of UP to provide security for construction work of the expressway as the work in the 41-km patch in Gautam Budh Nagar district was forcibly stopped by farmers who were staging protests at the construction site. The bench was informed that the farmers and villagers had forcibly prevented construction work in the stretch from December 25 last year and no steps were taken by the police despite the request to provide protection.
Regarding the 135-km long Western Peripheral Expressway, which connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana, the apex court was informed that the stretch from Palwal to Manesar was ready and the portion from Manesar to Kundli was under construction. The court, which has been hearing a 1985 PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta on issues including vehicular pollution, 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 two expressways — each around 135-km long — were planned in 2006 following the Supreme Court order to form a ring road outside Delhi for channeling non-Delhi bound traffic bypassing the national capital.