Sion Panvel Tollways (SPTPL), which operates the 23-km-long Sion–Panvel special state highway under the build, operate and transfer (BOT) model, has decided to vacate the toll plaza due to non-payment of dues from Maharashtra’s public works department (PWD) for the last two years, a spokesperson for the company said. The spokesperson told FF that SPTPL has claimed `689 crore from the PWD, but is yet to receive the amount. As a result, the company will remove all toll barriers from Friday (December 29, 2017) and stop all maintenance and operations activities.
The spokesperson said the PWD has not shown any interest in taking over the project despite SPTPL’s announcement of an earlier deadline of December 15 to hand over the same. SPTPL said this time the company would consider this as a ‘deemed handover’ in case the PWD does not come forward to take back the project on December 29, the new deadline. SPTPL said it has sent copies of the letter detailing its intention to vacate the toll booth to the principal secretary, PWD, and to the state chief secretary. Ashish Singh, principal secretary, PWD, Maharashtra, did not respond to a text message sent to his mobile phone on the subject. In case PWD does not take back the project on Friday, SPTPL said it will send another deemed handover letter to PWD before close of business along with the inventory of assets. The company will remove toll plaza equipment and CCTV cameras and keep them under lock and key at Sion-Panvel container offices. These will be handed over to PWD whenever they are ready to accept them. According to a filing with the Ministry of Company Affairs, SPTPL owed money to a clutch of lenders such as IIFCL, IOB, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank, BoI, Canara Bank, Karnataka Bank, OBC, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, Andhra Bank and Vijaya Bank. Of these, IOB will get `8.37 crore including interest payments. BoI and Canara Bank are owed `4.93 crore and `4.48 crore, respectively. OBC and Vijaya Bank are owed about `2.7 crore each while Karnataka Bank is owed `2.63 crore. SPTPL has been defaulting in most of these payments since December 2015.