Prioritize the completion of 2 dozen projects
New road transport minister Nitin Gadkari has asked National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to prioritize completion of over 2 dozen projects, a few of which are moving at snail’s pace.
The minister told NHAI officials that he would take up pending clearances and land availability with other ministries including defence, environment and railways in the next few days. Gadkari and his junior minister Krishna Pal Gurjar held a long meeting with top NHAI officials where he asked the authority to push awarding of projects both on government funding and public private partnership (PPP) mode, sources said.
To fast track decision making, the minister reportedly agreed to empower the NHAI board and tweak the contract conditions or have a new contract agreement, which leaves little scope for arbitration and legal hassles.
A government official said that “Since it will take some time for private players to start investing, it was suggested that there should be a proper mixture of public funded and PPP projects. The minister welcomed this view. Soon a plan will be prepared to deal with about 14-15 contracts which have been foreclosed with mutual consent. All these projects could not take off even after awarding due to default on the parts of both NHAI and developers.”
Most of these projects were awarded where the private developers had promised upfront annual revenue – known as premium.
The fate of another 7-8 projects including that of the INR 7,200 crore Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad mega project would be decided soon, sources said.
Gadkari has asked NHAI to resolve contract disputes so that equity becomes available with developers to take up new projects. This will also reduce burden on the authority, officials said.
NHAI chairman RP Singh suggested that in projects where developers are unable to infuse equity and banks are reluctant to release loan, the authority can provide financial assistance so that work can be completed for public good.