Pune-Satara road plan: NHAI serves notice to Reliance Infra for incomplete project
PUNE: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has served a notice of intention to terminate the concession agreement with Reliance Infrastructure Limited in connection with the six-laning of Pune-Satara section of NH-4. Reliance infra cites Covid-19 situation for delay and states that 96 per cent of the work is completed.
NHAI served the notice on May 21 for the project to be executed under built operate and transfer (BOT) under national highway development programme phase 4.
The notice stated “It is submitted that the appointed date was declared 1.10.2010 and you had commenced the work with effect to that date. The scheduled completion date 30.03.2013 which subsequently got modified as 31.12.2015 for which a supplementary agreement was entered into between the authority and the concessionaire on 30.10. 2014. It is pertinent to note that the project highway has to be maintained by the concessionaire till the project is completed and thereafter also during the maintenance period i.e. during the entire concession period.”
The notice continued, “It is to be noted that the authority and independent engineer intimated about the importance of highways/diversions, lack of safety measures, slow progress of work on a number of occasions. Even show cause notices were served earlier vide authority letter no. 2001 and 2002 dated 27.07.2014 and no. 1568 dated 13.10.2016.
“Though the concessionaire had promised to address the issue immediately but the inspections carried out by NHAI officials and independent engineers revealed that the position has further deteriorated instead of improvement.”
A Reliance Infra’s spokesperson for Pune-Satara toll road said, “We were issued intention to terminate notice by NHAI which has already been responded last week. The project is in advanced stage of completion, with 98.2 per cent work already completed. The project was expected to be completed by May 31, 2020 for which the authorities had already recommended extension. Work was in progress as per target but had to be suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic from March 20. The government of India has already announced extension of 6 months for projects in progress due to the Covid-19 crisis. Pre-monsoon works are in progress and there is shortage of labour. We are sourcing local labour to continue. The project will be completed as per the extension granted by authority under Covid-19.”
The notice made critical observations like “It goes without saying that all the above incidents and neglect on the part of the concessionaire has invited public wrath and number of agitations are taken up by various organisations demanding stoppage of toll collection etc because of poor condition of the highway which the concessionaires had not paid heed to even after several reminders and after getting various EOT’s . Such neglect towards public safety and non-compliance with the terms of the CA henceforth attracts the clause 37.1.2 of CA,” the notice said.
In view of the above, the concessionaire is hereby notified of authorities intention to issue termination notice under the clause of 37.1.2 of the concession agreement and concessionaire is hereby is at liberty to make representation as to why it should not be terminated within 15 days of the receipt of the notice, the notice warned
“They were given 15 days and there have been contractual issues and notice served by the headquarter. It is our intention notice and they have responded to our notice and we are looking into it. We have received their reply a few days ago and only 4 per cent of the work is left,” said Suhas Chitnis, project director, NHAI.
RTI activist Vivek Velankar said that the said notice should have been given much earlier citing that toll has been collected for nine years by the company. “Will action be taken and toll collection stop? There are a number of questions which need to answered. The notice will turn out to be a farce in the long run if it is not implemented in letter and spirit,” he said.