Delhi-Gurgaon toll road project gets more muddled

September 27, 2013



Ministry looking at making a criminal liability case


The Delhi-Gurgaon toll road project is getting further tangled in controversies. The Highways Ministry is considering whether a criminal liability case can be made on the project.

This is what emerges in a letter sent by Highway Ministry Secretary Vijay Chhibber to NHAI Chairman R.P. Singh on Thursday.

Simultaneously, the Haryana Government has backed off from its earlier stated intention of buying out the project to make it toll free and ease the pain for commuters facing jams on the toll road. With this, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will have to buy-back the concession agreement, at the earliest, the Secretary said.

On Wednesday, NHAI Chairman had written to Highway Secretary to decide how the project could be handed over to Haryana State Government.

A day later, on Thursday, the Road Secretary wrote back to NHAI that in a meeting between Highways Minister and Haryana Chief Minister – held in the presence of Highway Secretary, NHAI Chairman and Haryana Chief Secretary – it was “patently clear that the Government of Haryana is not pursuing its earlier intention of buying out that project”.

Given the importance of the issue and the prevailing uncertainty, the Ministry will also seek assistance from Attorney General to represent NHAI in pursuing this matter in Delhi High Court. This project is already under dispute due to the multiple issues and hearings are going in Delhi High Court.

Due to the toll road developer not meeting his commitments on road maintenance and commuters facing a lot of inconvenience, NHAI had decided to terminate the project.

But, the project lenders – currently led by IDFC – have given more money to the developer than the project cost agreed upon by the Government. So, if the contract is cancelled, they will get less money from the NHAI. Now, the lenders do not want NHAI to cancel the project as they have to chase the road developer – DSC Ltd – for the repayment, who is already financially stressed.

Indications are that the issue has been referred to Chief Vigilance Commissioner and the Enforcement Directorate to pursue whether the road developer had used inter-corporate deposit route to transfer funds from the escrow account, where toll money received from project were kept.


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