Toll bridge expansion: SC refuses stay on building demolition

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New Delhi, May 21 (UNI) Expansion of the toll bridge linking Delhi, Gurgaon and Rajasthan ran into rough weather when the Supreme Court today refused to vacate the stay granted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on acquisition and demolition of a four-storey building compulsory for the enlargement.

A vacation bench comprising Justices C K Thakker and Lokeshwar Singh Panta, however, issued notices to the Natioanl Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on the petitions filed by the developers of the bridge.

The bridge, known as 'Golden Quadrilateral', has 24 lanes on the Delhi side but only six on the side of Gurgaon and is part of the dream project of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

At present, the toll bridge has the daily capacity of 50,000 vehicles, but if the traffic load goes beyond 1.30 lakh vehicles a day, then it will lead to congestion on the Haryana side.

The developers -- Golden, Iron and Steel forgins Ltd and M/S Dynamac (I) private Ltd -- have shifted the centre of the toll bridge to increase the number of lanes in a phased manner -- from 6 to 12 lanes, from 12 to 18 and then from to 18 to 24 lanes -- so that the possibility of traffic congestion on the toll bridge can be eliminated.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the building owner, contended before the court that the centre of the toll bridge has been deliberately and intentionally shifted by developers to demolish the building.

Senior counsel Arun Jaitley, appearing for the developers, however, contended that the centre had to be shifted under compelling circumstances so that the bridge on the Gurgaon side does not become a source of constant traffic jams due to increased number of vehicles using the toll plaza.

The apex court, while refusing to interfere with the High Court order, however, made it clear that the developers can go ahead with the expansion of the project without touching the building and directed that the matter be listed for a hearing before a regular bench of the court after the summer vacation.

UNI SC ARB DS1423

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