GHAZIABAD: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Friday said that the much-awaited Delhi-Meerut Expressway (DME) is likely to start operation by March, 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the 96km-long road project on December 31 at Noida.
NHAI chairman Raghav Chandra, after an inspection visit on Friday, said that two stretches of the DME — from Sarai Kale Khan in Delhi to UP Gate and from Dasna in Ghaziabad to Hapur — have already been awarded to a concessionaire.
The officials added that there were several hitches in the smooth implementation of the project — like the encroachments in Pandav Nagar, Vinod Nagar, Nehru Camp and Patparganj by unauthorised colonies and slum cluster areas on NH-24 land.
“We have taken up the issue with the Delhi government. For the Delhi section, we have been provided documents by the Delhi Development Authority, which states that 90 metre right of way land belongs to the government. So, there are no legal hurdles for the land now. For rehabilitation and resettlement of the slums, we are in talks with the government,” Chandra said.
The Delhi to UP Gate stretch of the DME is slotted for 14 lane development at a cost of nearly ` 937 crore over a stretch of 8.7km.
“We are also planning to raise the height of the Delhi stretch over river Yamuna from 2.5 metre to 7.5 metre as the river is proposed for inland waterways,” he said.
Official sources said that nearly 30000 trees/plants will be felled for the entire DME project for which authorities will soon approach the National Green Tribunal for necessary permissions. They added that some of the money for compensatory afforestation has already been deposited with the respective.
The officials said that they are in talks with other Delhi agencies, like BSES, DJB, MTNL and IGL among others, as the project would involve utility shifting.
Since the work for the Delhi section was awarded to the concessionaire on March 4 this year, the officials said that the work will start by August. The project is expected to make the commute easier for nearly 1.5 lakh cars daily.