Highways builders body NHBF took a strong exception to NHAI’s move to put in public domain the names of companies which had been barred from bidding for road projects, saying it has no authority to do so.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has reportedly uploaded on its website names of companies including Larsen & Toubro, HCC and Essel Infra Projects and the period for which they were barred from bidding for projects.
The list, however, was withdrawn. Repeated calls made to NHAI Chairman Deepak Kumar and other senior officials in this regard remained unanswered.
“Even assuming that NHAI falls under the definition of a state instrumentality and thereby it has, powers to blacklist an entity flows from the executive power to Carry out the trade/business, it has no authority to upload such document in public domain,” said the National Highways Builders Federation (NHBF) in a letter that has been sent to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Principal Secretary to PM Nripendra Mishra, among others.
The letter mentions, “This unilateral action of NHAI has totally shaken the confidence of the developers/contractors community, especially when the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is coming out with ambitious development of national and state highways including the Bharatmala scheme.”
None of the companies, who have been debarred for the next 2-3 years, were issued any kind of show-cause notice or given an opportunity to represent, before they were put to shame in public, the NHBF said.
When contacted, infrastructure major L&T said termination cannot be treated as its default.
“L&T IDPL, a subsidiary of L&T, terminated a concession for the Pimpalgaon Nashik Gonde Project due to force majeure events arising from law and order issues as per provisions of the concession agreement, after completing the project,” a L&T spokesperson said.
He said, “In our opinion the termination cannot be treated as a concessionaire event of default.”
The infrastructure major said the matter is subjudice as it is under arbitration/conciliation. As per NHAI directions, the matter has been represented and a decision is awaited from them shortly.”
The reported list, withdrawn by NHAI, had details of 20 projects terminated by the regulator after April 2014 due to contractor’s event of default in which developers were asked to make any representation to NHAI headquarters by November 6.