On fast track: Ambitious EPE project split into three

Written by Timsy Jaipuria | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 17 2014, 08:18am hrs
In a bid to fast-track the construction of the ambitious Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), the first expressway to be awarded by the Centre, the government has decided to break the project into three parts. The decision was taken since the expressway has as many as 90 structures (underpasses, over bridges, flyovers), which make it heavy on costs.

Since the costs will be huge, any one engineering procurement construction (EPC) contractor may find to difficult to execute it. Also, splitting of the project would allow the work to begin simultaneously at three segments of the project, enabling early completion of the whole project, an official said.

It is understood that the three parts of the expressway, with a total length of 135 km, would connect portions of National Highway (NH) 1, NH 24, NH 58 Sonipat, Ghaziabad and Palwal. The proposed expressway will also be connected to Yamuna Expressway between Delhi and Agra.

The detailed project report (DPR) for this is already under preparation and the projects are expected to be bid out soon, the official added.

The move comes after the government decided to scrap the plan to use the public-private partnership (PPP) model to build the R6,290-crore EPE project.

The project was decided to be bid out on EPC model after the National Highways Authority of India did not receive a single bid for the project before the April 4 deadline. In July last year, the Prime Minister had directed that the eastern peripheral expressway be awarded by December end, but the project is still running behind the schedule.

Meanwhile, sources said the government has also recived an expression of interest for the funding of EPE by the Japanese government. Representatives from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other Japenese agencies recently met with the senior road ministry officials and expressed interest to have an exposure in the project if need be, the sources confirmed.

According to officials, the bidding for the EPE project remained open for almost two months, but closed without anyone showing interest.

The EPE project, whose completion is key to easing the traffic congestion in the National Capital Region, was among the four projects cleared by the Cabinet in July 2013 for PPP ventures.

According to Vishwas Udgirkar, senior director (infrastructure) at Deloitte: The investor sentiment in the road sector is at its lowest now. Developers are not keen to pick up projects on the PPP mode. Therefore, the timing of launching such projects is not right. Also, developers are wary about the financial viability of an expressway project at this juncture due to lack of clarity on traffic projections and tariff structure.