The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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George, Sahib in flyover spat

New Delhi, Oct. 11 (PTI): Defence minister George Fernandes and labour minister Sahib Singh Verma today engaged in a spat in public over entrusting the construction of a flyover connecting Dwarka in south-west Delhi with south Delhi to a multi-national construction giant.

Verma, who spoke ahead of Fernandes at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the flyover at Palam, lashed out at the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for entrusting the work to Larsen and Tubro (L&T), saying “their record of completing projects within the time-frame was very dismal”.

“Larsen and Tubro was given a work in my constituency and they are yet to start their construction six months after the foundation stone was laid,” Verma said, adding: “I am very apprehensive of allotting them works in the capital.”

Coming to the company’s rescue and terming Verma’s comments “unfortunate”, Fernandes said: “I have full faith in Larsen and Tubro. They have overseen construction of numerous defence projects, too, and have a good track record. There is no cause for apprehension.”

Even before Fernandes could complete his speech, Verma left the venue. The defence minister said L&T was “ahead of the deadline” on naval project ‘Seabird’ in Karnataka and also in the construction of national highways across India.

Witness to the war of words between the two Cabinet colleagues was urban minister Ananth Kumar, his deputy O. Rajagopal, BJP leader V.K. Malhotra and Delhi lieutenant governor Vijai Kapoor, besides a large number of DDA officials and L&T engineers.

Fernandes advised the urban development ministry to plan new cities away from metropolitan cities so that the inflow of people towards the metros is checked.

Claiming credit for the speedy progress of Metro rail project in the capital, Ananth Kumar said the Centre is committed to play a bigger role in speeding up the development of Delhi. “From now, every week there will be one foundation stone laying and a project inauguration. The Centre will play a greater role in enhancing the growth-rate of the capital,” Kumar said.

The proposed 2-km flyover is expected to be completed within two-and-half years and will bridge Delhi and Dwarka, the sub-city envisaged in the Master Plan-2001 for a population of one million. The defence ministry has a role in its construction because the approach road and the land granted for the flyover passes through army and air force cantonment areas and involved their displacement.

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