Blame game over delay in widening Delhi-Jaipur road

Centre, state govt exchange letters passing the buck to each other

A blame game is on between the Rajasthan government and Union ministry for road transport and highways over the delay in widening of Jaipur-Delhi NH-8 road.

In reply to chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s letter to Union surface transport minister Dr C P Joshi over the delay in the execution of the project, ministry officials shot back a reply  shifting the onus on the state government.

The letter blames the Rajasthan government’s indolence over land acquisition as prime cause for the delay in road widening work.

According to officials of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), the ministry has prepared a detailed reply. It mentions that the major reason has been the failure of the state government in acquiring land at Shahpura, Pawata, Kotputli and Behror for the project.

The ministry has decided to highlight these points in its response. It also adds that the state government is already aware of these issues and has been apprised by the NHAI and central government on several occasions.

Following the reply by the NHAI, the state PWD department convened a high-level meeting on Wednesday of the concerned officials to overcome the bottlenecks.
The brief was to expedite the project as it has been pending for a long time much to the inconvenience of the commuters. The state government wants to complete the project before the next Assembly elections, which are due in December.

According to NHAI officials the issue of land acquisition at a few places is the major impediment.

A senior NHAI official claimed at Kotputli, the compensation has not been disbursed for the past one-and-a-half years. The state government is yet to provide the NHAI land at Sanjay Van despite the payment of Rs 1.15 crore as compensation to the forest department. He said blaming NHAI for the delay was unjustified.

The authorities are facing a stiff protest from shopkeepers and local leaders in Kotputli. While at some places in Behror and Shahpura, the land deeds are under the names of local panchayats, the land has been encroached upon by villagers.

The government has failed to address many concerns which are adding to the delay, said an official. In the first week of November, Gehlot wrote to Joshi about the slow progress on NH-8. He asked the minister to take action against the contractors.

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