The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is set to hold a meeting of its executive committee on November 16 to discuss the way forward in the matter of road developers that have been listed as defaulters and barred from bidding for further projects. According to sources, the NHAI is expected to invite the National Highways Builders Federation (NHBF) for the meeting to give them the opportunity to discuss the grievances of their members. The NHBF counts over a 100 engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies and toll-road developers among its members, including leading companies such as L&T, HCC, IL&FS Transportation, GVK Power & Infrastructure, GMR Highways and IRB Infrastructure Developers.
The companies blacklisted by the NHAI include L&T, HCC, Essel Infraprojects, Soma Enterprise, Progressive Constructions, Madhucon Toll Highways and JKM Infra Projects, among others. On November 9, Union minister Nitin Gadkari asked NHAI not to scrap the projects of these companies till completion of their review process. Gadkari also asked the NHAI to debar any defaulting developer only after the completion of any legal proceedings. Earlier, on November 2, NHBF had written to NHAI chairman Deepak Kumar, placing on record their request to the authority to remove the list of debarred contractors that NHAI had published on its website. The letter also said, “You may take appropriate action as stipulated in concession/EPC agreements, short of debarring them from participating in future bids in larger public interest.” NHAI subsequently removed the list from the website but the industry has condemned the unilateral action with the affected developers also issuing statements terming NHAI’s move as premature, especially since the cases of alleged termination were already undergoing an adjudication or conciliation process.