About Rs 903 crore raised by private operators by collecting toll on three national highways projects was not deposited in ‘withheld amount accounts or escrow accounts’ as per agreed terms.
On the contrary, an amount of Rs 304 crore was diverted by the operators for investments, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit report to be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday revealed.
The report titled “Implementation of Public Private Partnership Projects in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)” audited projects for the 2007-8 to 2012-13 period and has been finalised after having been submitted to the ministry of road transport and highways, government sources said.
The finding was reported after the CAG studied a sample of 20 six-lane projects and detected the violations in three projects.
In the Pune-Satara highway project for instance, the concessionaire PS Toll Pvt Ltd (promoted by Reliance Infrastructure), without achieving the milestones or to commence work under the concessionaire agreement (CA), began to charge toll from the appointed date (October 1, 2010) to March 2014, and collected Rs 542 crore, out of which an amount of Rs 225 crore (till August 8, 2012), were invested in Reliance Liquid Fund/Reliance Money Manager Fund in violation of the CA, the report said.
Article 31.3.1A for withholding the toll collection in case of failure to achieve milestones and available in other six-laning CAs—is missing in the Delhi-Agra project where the successful bidder was Reliance Infrastructure Ltd.
A Reliance-promoted and constituted concessionaire—DA Toll Road Private Ltd—started toll collection on the highway. In this case while the concessionaire collected Rs 120 crore till August 2013, it could not deposit the amount in an escrow account due to absence of the relevant clause.