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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Delhi-Gurgaon expressway: Doubts over toll collection; fresh dispute over fund transfer

Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, February 16, 2014
First Published: 21:37 IST(16/2/2014) | Last Updated: 21:39 IST(16/2/2014)

The recent disagreement which arose between the lead lenders and the concessionaire of the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway project over the issue of sharing of liabilities seemingly stems from certain pending issues including a police complaint made by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) against the concessionaire for alleged irregularities in the toll collection.

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While the Delhi high court on Monday (Feb 17) will take up the case filed by the concessionaire - the Delhi Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd (DGSCL) - challenging the termination notice issued by the NHAI, there is ambiguity over the fate of the pending NHAI complaint, allegations of transferring funds from the escrow account using inter-corporate transfer against DGSCL and raising funds by the DGSCL without NHAI approval and by securitising the toll receipts for the entire concession period. NHAI chairperson RP Singh, when contacted, said that all these issues would be settled by Tuesday.

Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), the lead lender for the project, had entered into an agreement with the Delhi Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd (DGSCL), the project concessionaire, to take over the liabilities and substitute the concessionaire with a new player. However, on February 11, a dispute arose whether the DGSCL shall be discharged of all the future liabilities as well. The disagreement between the two parties led to the adjournment of the court matter till February 17.

A concession agreement was signed in 2002 between NHAI and the concessionaire - M/s Jaypee DSC Ventures Ltd ( later named as Delhi-Gurgaon Super connectivity Ltd) - for making Delhi-Gurgaon section of national highway-8 into an access controlled highway on a built operate transfer (BOT) basis for a concession period of 20 years. A state support agreement of the project was signed between the concessionaire, NHAI, Haryana and Delhi governments. The project was put to commercial operation in January 2008. Subsequently, problems pertaining to traffic jams at toll plazas started affecting the commuters.

In March 2013, the NHAI issued a notice of termination of concession agreement to concessionaire on grounds such as non-fulfillment of various clauses and non-maintenance of the main accessway and lanes. The concessionaire was also expected to improve the lanes at Kherki Dhaula toll and integrate the collection system at main Gurgaon toll plaza. The notice was also issued as the concessionaire had raised loans by securitising the toll collection without informing the NHAI. The Delhi high court subsequently stayed the effect of this termination notice after the concessionaire challenged it before the HC. In May 2013,  Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda wrote to the NHAI, seeking shifting of the two toll plazas - at the entry of Gurgaon and near Kherki Dhaula to Bilaspur.

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