“Once the bidding process is completed and the contract is awarded, we will give five months to the concessionaire to do the financial closure. In the meantime, we will get the required forest clearances,” said SP Somashekar, director of project implementation at NHAI, without mentioning the timeline to begin the road work.
Although the project has been delayed, it is learnt that Karnataka is comparatively ahead in finishing the required formalities to start the work. Officials say that the land acquisition process too is nearing completion and pending settlements will be finished within a month.
The 262-km long highway begins in Hoskote and ends at Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur where it will connect to the Chennai Outer Ring Road. It aims to reduce the travel time between the two cities to four hours. The project was mooted in 2011 and took nearly seven years to get the nod from the Centre and make some progress. About 76 km of the greenfield expressway passes through Karnataka.
The NHAI had initially planned to start the work by September-October 2019. According to officials, the delay in inviting bids is because of issues with getting clearances and certain clarifications that the NHAI sought from Karnataka. “As far as Karnataka is concerned, we have submitted the necessary information and documents to the headquarters. It is only a matter of time before the award is finalised,” the project director told ET.
The estimated cost of the project including land acquisition and compensation is about ₹18,000 crore of which the cost incurred on the Karnataka stretch will be ₹6,000 crore. The project involves acquisition of 2,600 hectares land, of which about 800 hectares are in Karnataka.
The high-priority expressway is expected to benefit industrial hubs including Walajapet and Panniyur.