The government is working on setting up an arbitral tribunal to clear the huge backlog of cases as it is committed to fast-tracking the sector’s growth, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari today said.
“The previous governments have left a legacy of disputes impeding the highway sector’s growth. We have sent a proposal for setting up an arbitral tribunal to the finance ministry… as we need approval of the law and finance ministries,” Gadkari said on the sidelines of a CII event on ‘Building National Competitiveness’.
“Not a single highway dispute has come to the fore in about two years of the present Narendra Modi government.”
Marking out resolution of disputes as his ministry’s top priority, Gadkari said, “We have sent the proposal of setting up a four-member panel… Many cases are pending in the Supreme Court and high courts, impeding the sector’s growth, and once the proposal is cleared, we will resolve all cases.”
Of late, the Modi government has taken steps to help clear Rs 3.8 lakh crore stalled highways projects.
“There are no disputes of the present government. We solved a large number of problems including a big Rs 7,000 crore project, but some projects are beyond our limitations. Once the panel is approved by the finance minister, we will ask NHAI, government officials and developers to solve disputes with mutual consent,” Gadkari said.
He is hopeful of a solution in the upcoming Parliament session.
The minister has recently said, “There were 283 stalled projects worth Rs 3.8 lakh crore at the time when I took over the reins of the ministry… For two and a half years, the previous environment and forest minister did not sign a single file… a majority of the projects were stuck on account of forest clearances and regulatory hurdles.”
Talking about a project-specific approach to address the issue of stalled projects at the CII event, he said as a result, around 85 per cent of the stalled projects have been put on track.
The emphasis now has been on awarding the projects under the innovative hybrid annuity model and in toll-operate-transfer mode, opening the door to the private sector to invest in road construction.
To reduce costs and improve quality, the minister made a reference to innovative initiatives such as use of waste material for road construction.
He stressed on the need to develop 111 important rivers for inland waterways, development of multi-modal hubs, water ports and the like to bring down logistics costs.
Gadkari called upon the private sector to develop lighthouses and islands in and around waterways which would spur tourism as well.
Atul Punj, Chairman, CII National Committee on Construction, and Chairman, Punj Lloyd, said that though the sector has picked up after positive developments including amendments in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 2015, and announcement of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), there are still concerns over substantial unsettled claims and mandate of NIIF.
Vipin Sondhi, Chairman, CII National Committee on Capital Goods & Engineering and MD and CEO, JCB India, said proactive policy initiatives by the government have resulted in streamlining of land acquisition, regulatory clearances and close co-ordination among ministries.