Ministry unlikely to pay highway companies for higher input costs

April 28, 2008

The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways is unlikely to accept a demand of private contractors engaged in the construction of national highways for reimbursement of increased costs, incurred due to the unprecedented hike in cement and steel prices.

A senior official in the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways said: “We have received the demands of the highway contractors. However, it is very difficult to rework the cost escalation norms and reimburse the escalated price in a running contract. The government has taken several measures to address the price issue and in the coming days the prices of steel and cement are expected to come down”.

He added the projects undertaken on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis always have a risk element involved.

The risk is addressed to a certain extent as the contract is based on the star rate (the base rate at which the contract is signed for any given commodity used) and in which there is a provision to reimburse the escalated price.

Brahmdutt, president, National Highway Builders Federation, said: “The unanticipated sharp rise in the price of cement, steel, bitumen and other raw materials over the last year have hit hard the contractors undertaking National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) projects. The escalation clause of most contract documents are insufficient to accommodate the large variations in prices of construction materials. As a result such variations transfer themselves to the contractor in the form of increased costs”.

Over the last year, prices of steel, cement and bitumen have increased at an average of 76.96 per cent. This has led to increase in cost of building a 1 km four lane project from Rs 6 crore to Rs 7.84 crore

Ankideedu Maganti, director, Soma Enterprises Ltd, which is undertaking a couple of National Highways Authority of India, projects said: “At the time of bidding we assume a inflation of 7-8 per cent on materials.

But right now, our assumptions are not able to accommodate the 40-50 per cent rise in the price of raw materials”.


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