Sunday, Aug 13, 2023

Rs 18 crore per km to Rs 250 crore per km, CAG flags ‘very high’ project cost of Dwarka Expressway

Among others, notes that project appraised, approved without any detailed project report

Dwarka ExpresswayThe audit was conducted from 2017-18 to 2020-21. (File)
Listen to this article
Rs 18 crore per km to Rs 250 crore per km, CAG flags ‘very high’ project cost of Dwarka Expressway
1x 1.5x 1.8x

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has flagged the “very high” civil construction cost of the 29.06-km Dwarka Expressway, which was sanctioned by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) at a cost of Rs 250.77 crore per km against Rs 18.20 crore per km approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for National Corridors/National Corridors Efficiency Improvements Programme, under which this project was being constructed.

In its audit report on ‘Implementation of Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana’ (or BPP-I) — conducted for the period 2017-18 to 2020-21 — the CAG has made several observations on 14-lane road project — eight elevated lanes and six lanes at grade (or elevation of the road) — meant to decongest NH-48 between Delhi and Gurgaon.

The report notes that Dwarka Expressway was initially planned by Haryana government under its Gurgaon-Manesar Urban Construction Plan-2031. For that, Haryana acquired right of way (width of a road) of 150 metres to construct the main carriage way of 25 metres, with a 7-m-wide median and a dedicated utility corridor for trunk services.

“However, with no further progress being made by Haryana government, this project was later approved in BPP-I by CCEA,” the report noted. For this purpose, 90 m right of way was handed over by Haryana to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) free of cost, the audit report stated.

The report highlighted, “Audit observed that up to 70-75 metre right of way was required to build 14-lane national highway at grade. However, for no reasons on record, the project in Haryana region, where its length was 19 km, was planned with eight-lane elevated main carriageway and six lanes at grade road, when NHAI already had 90 m right of way and the same was sufficient for building 14 lanes at grade…. Due to such massive structures, this project, constructed on EPC [Engineering, Procurement, and Construction]mode, for a length of 29.06 km had sanctioned civil construction cost of Rs 7,287.29 crore i.e., Rs 250.77 crore/km as against per-km civil construction cost of Rs 18.20 crore approved by CCEA…”

Mentioning the ministry’s observations, the report stated: “MoRTH replied (April 2022) that Dwarka Expressway was decided to be developed as an eight-lane elevated corridor with minimal entry-exit arrangements to allow smooth movements of inter-state traffic. As for six lanes at grade road, this was effectively the six-lane existing carriageway available to local commuters prior to upgrade of road. Further, necessary underpasses dovetailed with requirements of local authorities were also incorporated to avoid future interventions. It stated that this development plan required 90 meter right of way to ensure technical standards and meet criteria of road safety. Accordingly, based on discussions, the required right of way was provided by Haryana government free of cost to NHAI.”

The CAG report mentioned that the ministry’s reply “may be viewed” against the fact that construction of underpasses/flyovers at the intersection point of the highway at grade could have been considered a feasible option rather than building the whole eight-lane main carriageway as elevated. “In fact, in Dwarka Expressway itself, at one location where the main carriageway was at grade, suitable underpass was being constructed to avoid traffic congestion. This could have mitigated the huge cost of building the whole stretch in Haryana region as elevated. Further, MoRTH did not counter audit observation that 14-lane national highway could have been built at grade in available 90 meter right of way.”


The CAG has also highlighted that the Dwarka Expressway was “appraised and approved without any detailed project report”.

“Audit observed that the four projects of Dwarka Expressway were appraised and approved by Competent Authority based on a brief by [the] technical division of NHAI. Thus, Dwarka Expressway was appraised and approved without any detailed project report,” the report said.

It has flagged the effects of “non-preparation of detailed project report”, which it said were manifested in several ways.


Although “sufficient” right of way was with NHAI to build all 14 lanes at grade level, “for no reasons on record, it was being constructed with eight-lane elevated road and six lanes at grade road, resulting in very high per km civil cost of Rs 250.77 crore for this project”, the report noted.

It also noted that the planned toll rates and tolling mechanism “might hinder” recovery of capital cost and “might also result in undue financial burden on commuters” between Delhi and Gurgaon, up to Kherki Daula toll plaza. The lane configurations of the expressway were determined without analysing development of competing infrastructure such as Rapid Rail Transit System Shahjahanpur-Neemrana-Behror (RRTS SNB), the report stated.


Part of national highways project

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved Bharatmala Pariyojana in October 2017 as a new umbrella programme for development of national highways of 74,942 km length. Of this, 34,800 km, including the Residual National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) length of 10,000 km, was approved under Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana for development up to September 2022, at an investment outlay of Rs 5,35,000 crore.

“MoRTH replied (April 2022) that the Dwarka Expressway project was given to M/s AECOM (lead partner in association with other members) as a variation to consultancy services for preparation of feasibility report of greenfield Delhi-Jaipur Expressway. There was no provision for detailed project report in the existing consultancy services,” the CAG pointed out. “However, it may be noted that with the advent of model EPC Agreement, the detailed design has been included in the scope of EPC contractor.”

Most Read
1 Gadar 2 box office collection Day 2: Sunny Deol film earns over Rs 83 crore in just two days, becomes the highest grossing film of his career
2 ‘They are dealers, not leaders’: Retired judges, officers write to President seeking action against ‘China-backed portal’

Accordingly, it said, the feasibility report “containing good for tender drawings were sufficient for invitation of bids and appraisal of the project”.

The report said, “Reply of MoRTH regarding feasibility report containing good for tender drawing being equivalent to detailed project report was in contravention to its own Standard Operating Procedure (December 2017) for BPP-I which stated that detailed project reports presented the outline/layout for any project and hence should be prepared judiciously keeping in mind the latest technologies available and good quality detailed project reports were key for timely and economical construction of quality projects. In fact, considering the importance of good detailed project reports, MoRTH, through Standard Operating Procedure, assigned additional duty to NHAI to develop a detailed guidance document for detailed project report consultant to ensure quality design and quality detailed project report preparation including topics on the use of technology in detailed project report, standard designs for structures, guidelines for access control etc. However, no such detailed guidance document was prepared by NHAI.”

Also Read
Nine Rajya Sabha members retire, Rajya Sabha, Jagdeep Dhankhar, S. Jaishankar, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Derek O' Brien and Dola Sen, Indian Express, India news, current affairs
tn governor rn ravi
rahul gandhi wayanad

During conducting the audit, the CAG examined “planning, financial management, implementation, and monitoring of 66 sampled projects being implemented under Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana”, the report mentioned.

First published on: 13-08-2023 at 02:56 IST
Latest Comment
Post Comment
Read Comments