The Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday that the Delhi government must pay "without fail" its dues of over Rs 3,500 crore as the land acquisition cost for the eastern and western peripheral expressways aimed at de-congesting traffic in the national capital. While eastern peripheral expressway envisages signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal, the western Peripheral Expressway connects Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana. Both are 135 km each. In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) said that in pursuance to the top court's October 18 direction a meeting of committees of secretaries was held under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary on November 11.
"It is submitted that after detailed deliberation at the meeting held on November 11, 2019, the committee passed the following recommendations:
(i) Government of Delhi must pay its dues without fail including the immediate payment of Rs 1,000 crore as directed by the Supreme Court. The remaining payment shall be completed within one months' time," the affidavit said.
(ii) "Any further increase in cost on account of land acquisition shall be borne by Government of Delhi, UP and Haryana in the existing proportion of 50 per cent, 25 per cent and 25 per cent respectively as was decided earlier," it said.
The matter came up for hearing on Friday before a bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta. Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, referred to the affidavit and said the Delhi government should pay the dues. As per the affidavit, governments of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh "have not deposited their pending shares of Rs 3,668.21 crore and Rs 63.47 crore respectively in the Central pool". Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Delhi government, termed it as "unacceptable" and said they do not want to pay "anything more". Rohatgi said that when the apex court had passed the order in 2005 on these expressways, the project cost was around Rs 800 crore which later escalated to over Rs 8,000 crore. He said that as per earlier estimate, the Delhi government has already paid its share.
"Our (Delhi government's) budgetary allocation is very very limited," Rohatgi said, adding, "Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are beneficiaries of this and they are developing townships along the expressways. I do not want to pay anything more. I have already paid around Rs 700 crore for this". He said that the amount collected by the Delhi government under environment cess is around Rs 900 crore and they want to utilise it for buying environment-friendly electric buses.
The counsel appearing for Haryana said they have paid the amount in accordance with their liability of 25 per cent of the cost. Senior advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the pollution matter, said Uttar Pradesh government has deposited around Rs 1,200 crore out of its share of 25 per cent. The bench asked Delhi government to file a proper affidavit within 10 days with regard to the issue pertaining to share of the cost for the expressways.
On October 18, the top court had directed Delhi government to release Rs 1,000 crore, out of its pending share, as cost of land acquisition for both the expressways. The amicus had earlier referred to the contents of a report which said the initial cost of land acquisition for both expressways was Rs 844 crore, which later escalated to Rs 8,462.03 crore.