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Before result, flyover thumbs-up to Sheila

New Delhi, Dec. 7: If flyovers could win elections, Sheila Dikshit would have been soaring by now.

For their utility, if nothing else, not to forget the man-hours and the fuel saved. And, of course, cleaner air.

Delhi’s Congress government may or may not be voted out tomorrow, but three-term chief minister Dikshit can look back with certainty at her pet project — flyovers.

Starting 2007, her government built 18 in a construction spree as the capital readied to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Now a study by the Delhi Public Works Department has said flyovers recover their construction cost within three years and gives back in terms of utility 37 times the expenses incurred in 40 years after commissioning.

The study, submitted recently to the Union urban development ministry, also revealed that it takes longer to get bureaucratic clearance than to construct a flyover.

“The study revealed that by the third year of commissioning of these projects, break-even point had been achieved. Beyond this period, these assets had become income-generating,” Sarvagya Srivastava, chief engineer, Delhi PWD, wrote in a letter to the urban development secretary.

A flyover’s life is between 50 and 60 years and the PWD claims that for the first 20 years it does not need any major maintenance.

The research was conducted on four counts: cost of project, savings in terms of value of man-hours saved, savings in terms of value of fuel saved because of reduction in travel time, and gains in terms of carbon credits earned because of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

The PWD did traffic surveys of average speed of vehicles before and after construction to calculate expected cumulative savings by the year 2015. It calculated the man-hours saved, based on the average monthly income of Rs 15,000 of a Delhi resident in 2012-13.

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi government had gone into overdrive to build flyovers. A total of 18 were constructed between 2007 and 2010 at a cost of Rs 3,148 crore.

The construction spree had attracted the attention of the CBI, which made “preliminary enquiries” into many of the projects. No case has been registered so far.

Pressure from the CBI and the political desire to highlight the “flyover achievement” of the Congress prompted the PWD to carry out the “cost-benefit” study of all the recent projects.

The study revealed that thanks to the flyovers, 2,096 million man-hours would be saved by 2015, which works out to Rs 11,403 crore. It said 622 million litres of fuel, which in current rates in Delhi would come to Rs 2,698 crore, would be saved too, while carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by 14 lakh metric tonnes.

The study said bureaucratic delays in clearing the flyovers marginalised these gains. “By and large, approximately six months were spent on their planning and tendering and two years for construction by (the) PWD. But it took an average 3-4 years for getting these proposals cleared by various agencies,” chief engineer Srivastava said in his letter.