The Road Transport Ministry has given NHAI time until Friday to lodge a criminal complaint against Delhi-Gurgaon road operator DSC Ltd for siphoning off toll money, and follow it up with the termination of the road concession agreement.
On Tuesday, the ministry instructed National Highways Authority of India to file an FIR against DSC after a forensic audit by independent agency, KPMG, established a “huge difference” in manual traffic count by KPMG and the traffic report submitted by the concessionaire for the same period.
The difference was leading to “huge misappropriation of the order of Rs 15.58 lakh per day”, the ministry said. “This is clearly a criminal act and also amounts to causing loss to the exchequer willfully and deliberately with an intent to cheating and fraud,” the ministry wrote.
“NHAI must consult a reputed criminal lawyer for appropriate legal advice and file an FIR covering all the relevant aspects of the crime, under various existing laws. A compliance in this regard must be intimated to the ministry in the next three days,” the missive quoting Road Transport Secretary Vijay Chhibber said.
“Necessary actions against the concessionaire must be taken expeditiously by the NHAI without allowing him any further elbow room to continue with the alleged misappropriation of funds/toll collection,” the ministry directed.
Chhibber also wrote that in view of the concessionaire’s “persisting and unrelenting” defaults, termination of this project was “the only option left before NHAI to protect public interest and put an end to the misery of the road users at the toll plazas”.
The decisions, communicated on Tuesday, were taken at a meeting on September 30 after confusion arose over the possibility of NHAI buying back the project from the road promoter when the Haryana government opted out of its initial offer.
Last week, the ministry had referred the project to the Chief Vigilance Commission and Enforcement Directorate to probe alleged financial fraud by DSC in the transfer of Rs 527 crores to its parent company, connivance of IDFC and public sector banks in the debt restructuring and an improper toll accounting by DSC.
The project is under dispute with NHAI serving a termination notice in February 2012 after DSC failed to meet his commitments on road maintenance.