Millennium Post

India to monetise 105 highway projects: Govt

India will monetise 105 highway projects for about Rs 145,000 crore in the coming years as part of new innovative models of financing, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said here on Tuesday.

"The traffic density in India is very high and the internal return on rates is very good," the Minister of road transport and highways said during a presentation on India Integrated Transport & Logistics Summit 2017 which will be held in New Delhi from May 3-5.

"105 projects will be monetised (for about) Rs 145,000 crore," Gadkari said.

"Now we require investments because there is no risk factor," he said, assuring of a good rate of return from highway toll collections.

"Particularly, for new investment, there are a lot of innovative models," said Gadkari who also launched a roadshow for promoting National High Authority of India's (NHAI) first rupee-denominated masala bonds here Monday. He also highlighted NHAI's AAA ratings.

"There are opportunities ... we are very transparent ... and very committed to the progress," he said.

Responding to financing and funding questions from delegates, the minister said he would be using "100 per cent of the National Investment Infrastructure Fund," an another innovative way of financing projects.

Among some of the challenging projects, Gadkari assured that Brahmaputra Express Highway will be developed as a national highway.

It will be the first highway project in the northeastern region which will be developed along the Brahmaputra river in Assam at an estimated investment of Rs 40,000 crore.

"We are serious about it. We will declare it as a national highway and we will work on it," he assured.

Detailed project report is expected in about three months for the 1,300-km of highway, construction of which would be completed in about three years.

A new company has been formed for road construction in the North East, he said.

"Connectivity in the North East is most important priority for our government," he said.

Elaborating, he stressed "We have sanctioned more than Rs 40,000 crore of projects and I am confident within two years it would be Rs 1,50,000 crore of road construction in North East which is going to change the face of North East."

Highway dispute resolution committee in a month: NHAI chief

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will put in place a conciliation committee in a month in its bid to resolve highway disputes involving huge sums as claims.

The NHAI is one of the largest highway contractors in the country with an annual spend of about Rs 90,000 core and there are 180 arbitral claims going on involving a sum of Rs 38,000 crore.

The NHAI proposes to set up a conciliation committee of independent experts in the wake of huge dispute claims, Chairman Y S Malik said while addressing a PHD event here on Tuesday.

"Within a month, I will go to my board and will be able to put that system in place," Malik said, adding that this will be in accordance with the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

The mandate of this conciliation committee will be "before, during and after arbitration".

At any stage if the parties wish, they can go to this committee and get their issues settled, he said.

"The NHAI is accounting for and spending around Rs 80,000-90,000 crore a year. It is one of the largest contractors in the country in the infrastructure sector. The size of the claims of disputes is also huge," Malik said.

Asserting that conciliation is a good way to settle disputes, the NHAI chief said an analysis during the past two months showed that so far 436 arbitral awards have been pronounced in the case of the NHAI.

"We have carried an analysis of 350 out of those 436 so far... Out of those 350, 151 stand resolved and 199 are pending at various stages. Out of those which have been resolved, 25 got resolved at the level of the Supreme Court, 16 at the level of division bench of the high court, 39 at the level of the single bench of the high court and 4 at the level of the district court itself," Malik said, giving the break- up.

He said that in 67 cases, the NHAI accepted the arbitral award and did not challenge while it has 36 dispute claims pending before the Supreme Court, 20 before the division bench and 22 before the single judge. Eight are still under consideration.

Malik said the NHAI had a conciliatory structure involving three chief general managers and a separate body through which 114 cases involving a claim amount of Rs 18,900 crore were settled.
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