The six-laning of Panipat-Jalandhar expressway project of NHAI being executed by Soma Isolux of Hyderabad has got clearance from the Supreme Court of shifting the toll plaza. Work on the 291-km stretch of the erstwhile Grand Trunk Road came to a halt in March 2012.
Through sources it is learnt that the developer had completed 71 per cent of the work as of March 2012 and only 29 per cent of the work spanning a length of 41km was remaining to complete. NHAI had awarded the project to Soma in May 2008 and signed a contract allowing Soma to collect toll from the day of construction.
But both NHAI and Soma were caught up in a legal battle, as in 2011, Soma decided to shift the toll plazas at Nilokheri to before Karnal from Delhi and Shambhu barrier to include commuters using Banur-Kharar road. The project was stalled for more than a year, duly missing three deadlines—November 2011, February 2012 and June 15, 2012.
Now, the court has directed NHAI to permit the shift of toll plaza, from 146km to anywhere between 110km and 117 km, considering the completion of the project. The court also directed the Soma-led consortium to complete the project by March 2015, failing which NHAI will be at liberty to impose penalties as per the concession agreement.
The BOT (Toll) project, estimated to cost Rs.4,500 crore, aims at increasing the capacity of the Panipat-Jalandhar section of NH-1 from 96 km to 387.10 km, spanning a length of 291 km, to six lane in Haryana/Punjab.