On Tuesday, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) announced a strict policy in order to deal with major lapses in structures that provide up to Rs 10 crore fine for defaulters other than debarment as well as ban on the firm or personnel from bidding on any future NHAI projects for up to a period of three years. The purpose behind this move by NHAI is to maintain high quality standards in highway development, according to an IE report. In cases of minor lapses, major incidents as well as major failures resulting in loss of human lives, graded penal action will be taken against the defaulters, NHAI said.
The authority stated that in case of a major lapse leading to loss of human life, a heavy fine up to Rs 10 crore and firm/personnel debarment up to three years’ period along with rectification by the defaulting contractors or concessionaires on their own cost may be imposed. For major lapses where there are no reported casualties, rectification by the defaulting contractors or concessionaires on their own cost and/or company debarment up to one year with up to Rs 5 crore penalty along with debarment of concerned personnel for up to two years from projects of NHAI has been provisioned, the report stated.
However, in case of minor lapses wherein no casualties are reported, the defaulting contractors or concessionaires will have to bear the expenses for carrying out the rectification work along with Rs 30 lakh penalty other than a written warning to the company as well as the personnel involved. According to NHAI, the consultancy company involved in the project will be held liable as well with up to Rs 40 lakh fine along with debarment from NHAI projects for up to two years, under the graded penalty. The authority further said that for a period of up to three years, key personnel of the consultancy company will also be debarred from NHAI projects.
According to the highway authority, the subsequent offence’s penalty shall be enhanced by an extra 50 per cent as compared to the penalty that was imposed in the previous instance for each repeated lapse by the defaulting contractors/consultants/concessionaires. Also, suitable action on officials of NHAI shall be taken as well, depending on the extent of dereliction of the duties by the concerned officer.
To investigate the matter, an Expert Committee will be set up in compliance with an already established post-accident mechanism as per the SOP. A suitable penalty will be imposed on the outcome of the investigation, NHAI said. During the investigation term, the concerned personnel of the contractor or concessionaire and the consulting company may be kept under suspension from working on NHAI projects.