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May 17, 2002 | 1126 IST
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Golden quadrilateral on a slow gear

Anil Sasi & Gaurav Raghuvanshi

The government is all set to slip on the timetable for the 5,840-km Golden Quadrilateral project.

Almost 65 per cent of the work will miss the deadline of December, 2003 by more than a year. The Golden Quadrilateral, linking the four metros, forms the first phase of the prime minister's dream National Highways Development Project.

According to the latest status report prepared by the ministry of road transport and highways, of the 101 contracts, as many as 66, entailing four/six laning of 3,170 km would be carried over beyond December 2003.

Fifty-five contracts covering 2,575 km are expected to be completed by December 2004 while work on 11 contracts for 594 km would extend up to December 2005.

Of the sections under implementation, 35 contracts covering 1,597 km are expected to be completed in time. A total of 1,074 km of national highways on the GQ have already been four-laned so far.

The ministry has estimated that contracts worth over 70 per cent of the total project cost of Rs 172.75 billion are spilling over beyond the December 2003 deadline.

Contracts worth Rs 98.75 billion are expected to be completed by December 2004 while contracts worth Rs 33.06 billion are expected to be executed only by December 2005.

The time overrun could also result in some cost escalation of the project. As against the original Rs 580 billion cost of the NHDP (including Rs 40 billion of port connectivity projects) at 1999 prices, the latest project cost quoted by the ministry is Rs 603 billion.

A substantial portion of the projects where work is expected to extend beyond the 2003 falls on the Kolkata-Chennai (NH 5,6 &60) and the Delhi-Kolkata (NH 2) sections. In the Kolkata-Chennai section, 24 contracts entailing multi-laning of 913 km are expected to be completed by December 2004.

A total of 10 contracts for multi-laning of 607 km on Delhi-Kolkata (NH-2) are likely to be completed by end of 2004 while work on 10 more contracts for upgradation of 504 km of sections on NH-2 is likely to be finished only by December 2005.

However, ministry officials said completion of a "substantial portion" of the project would be achieved by December 2003 and 2-laning of most sections would be over by then.

Also, contracts getting completed after December 2003 would have 6 months bonus clause for early completion, whereby it would be ensured the operators expedite the projects before the scheduled completion dates, officials said.

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