The Telegraph
Saturday , December 29 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Green delay hits highway

New Delhi, Dec. 28: The National Highways Authority of India has again protested to the environment ministry after another road project fell victim to the chronic delays in issuing green clearances.

Construction firm GMR has threatened to walk out of the 555km Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad national highway project 16 months after it won the bid to widen the four-lane highway to a six-lane one.

The GMR group has alleged that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) failed to secure an environment clearance, delaying the project and making it unviable.

The NHAI plans to fight it out with GMR. Still, NHAI chairman R.P. Singh cited the GMR move as an example in a recent letter to the environment secretary, complaining that delays in clearances and the rule of red tape was prompting many developers to walk out of projects.

Singh added that over 300 projects were awaiting the ministry’s nod and there would be more pullouts if environment clearances continued to be delayed.

The NHAI and the roadways ministry had raised similar concerns earlier too, with road minister C.P. Joshi approaching the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Recently, following a nudge from the PMO, the environment ministry had eased the rules for soil excavation for road projects. However, NHAI officials claim that there are several other pending issues.

GMR has served the NHAI with a notice of intention to terminate the agreement, claiming the authority had failed to get the environment clearance for one of the tunnels along the highway.

“Therefore the authority has been in continuous default in complying with the provisions of the agreement,” the GMR letter says. “The authority has thus clearly repudiated the agreement.”

The NHAI, however, has dug in its heels. “The notice is not tenable. They should have given us 90 days of what we call a ‘cure period’ to take corrective steps. It has been prematurely administered and we shall give it a suitable reply,” chairman Singh said.