PM Modi to inaugurate KMP expressway today; road to help Delhi breathe easy, cut traffic snarls

Delhiites can somewhat breathe easy now. The opening of the much-awaited Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE) on Monday is expected to reduce the number of non-Delhi destined commercial vehicles, which add to air pollution, in the city by around 30%. The air quality has been deteriorating in Delhi since last month with vehicular emissions being among the reasons for it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the WPE, popularly known as Kundali-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) expressway. Environmentalists and transport experts say that the government should now focus on developing freight complexes and warehouses along Delhi’s borders to further prevent the entry of trucks, which have to enter the city to off-load goods.

The loop will be completed with the opening of the 135km long KMP as the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) was inaugurated six months back. KMP will significantly reduce the number of trucks entering Delhi. It will connect National Highway-1 (towards Panipat), near Kundli, with National Highway -10 (Rohtak Road, near Bahadurgarh), NH-8 (Jaipur expressway at Manesar), and NH-2 (Delhi-Agra highway near Palwal).

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is hopeful that the traffic on EPE will increase significantly with the opening of KMP expressway. In a recent report submitted to the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), the NHAI said that only 16,000 commercial vehicles were using the EPE against expected 25,000-30,000. “A large number of trucks coming from NH-1 and heading towards NH-2, NH-8 and NH-10 used to avoid EPE and enter Delhi as it was a shorter route. These vehicles had to drive 15-20 km extra. However, the opening of the KMP will provide a direct link and we hope that non-destined trucks won’t enter the city,” said an NHAI official.

Planned after the Supreme Court’s directions in February 2005, the two peripheral highways (EPE and WPE), experts say, will help in reducing pollution levels as it would lead to traffic decongestion.

Sunita Narain, a member of the SC-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority, said that the opening of the expressway was a major part of the strategy of diverting non-destined truck traffic from Delhi. “In the studies done so far, at least 30% or more of the total trucks coming to the capital were not destined for Delhi. The strategy was to find an effective bypass for these non-destined trucks, which will now be provided by both eastern and western expressways,” she said.

She said once the Radio Frequency Identification system, which allows electronic collection of toll and environment compensation charge, is made operational, it will act as a disincentive for trucks and discourage them from entering Delhi.

Truckers say the new expressway will dramatically cut down travel time, as non-destined trucks do not have to enter the city. All India Motor Transport Congress chairman K S Aitwal said with KMP all the important highways around the national capital are now linked due to which trucks do not have to necessarily pass through the city.

Aitwal added that trucks coming from Jaipur (NH-8) and destined to Punjab (NH-1) will no longer have to take the Outer Ring Road. These vehicles will now directly reach their destinations in Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan without entering Delhi. “The KMP will help the non-destined truckers to do away with the green tax, police harassment, MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) toll, and heavy traffic. A detour of 10-15 km will not discourage the truck drivers to use KMP as it would give high-speed access to their destinations,” he said.

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