New Delhi: In yet another reiteration of its commitment to decongest the capital, the apex court has directed the Haryana government to expedite the completion of the Western Peripheral Expressway.

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the state to initiate a fresh tender process for the 135km expressway to ensure it is completed at the earliest.

A three-judge bench with chief justice H.L. Dattu, justices Arun Mishra and A.K. Goel expressed its anguish over the continued delays in the project. “Today we’re only concerned with starting of this expressway and completion of this expressway. People are suffering, let them not suffer more," the court said. The project was originally conceived in 2005.

Currently the work on the Western Peripheral Expressway is stalled due to a dispute between the Haryana government and DSC India Ltd, its former concessionaire. The government terminated the contract with DSC in February last year. DSC is seeking 1,300 crore against its investment in the project, which it claims is 68% complete, a fact being contested by the government.

The bench clarified that this order will not be held back due to this dispute with the earlier concessionaire.

The bench, however, addressed DSC’s concern that if the project is awarded to a new concessionaire, it would affect its ongoing dispute with the government.

It said this order will not come in the way of it pursuing its claim and that all questions will be left open for the consideration of the tribunal looking at the case.

The directive comes nearly two weeks after the Supreme Court reprimanded the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) over the delay in awarding the Eastern Peripheral Expressway.

The court asked the highway authority to start the project at the earliest and set a time line for its completion.

The peripheral expressways had been proposed to divert traffic from Delhi and reduce pollution in the capital through an order passed on 11 February 2005.

The court issued a similar order for the Western Peripheral Expressway, asking the government to award the contract for its construction within the next two months.

It added that the project should start within a month of such an award.

The court also clarified in its order that it would not give any further extension with regard to the tender process.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 27 March, by which time the government would have awarded the contract, said solicitor general Ranjit Kumar.

“The court order will certainly have a huge impact. Governments are getting stuck and that is when courts are interfering. It’s a welcome thing, especially because the court has given a timeline and hopefully a lot of bottlenecks will now be cleared," said Ravi Prakash, partner at DSK Legal who works with infrastructure projects.