Ex-NHAI official to be booked for shifting of toll plazas

December 2, 2013

Dipak Kumar Dash,TNN |


NEW DELHI: A former NHAI official is set to be booked for “misguiding” the authority’s ex-chairman to allow shifting of two toll plazas on Panipat-Jalandhar stretch of NH-1. After an inquiry committee of NHAI recommended action against the official last month, highways minister Oscar Fernandes okayed filing of an FIR against him.
The NHAI inquiry found that “then member (projects) S I Patel had misguided” then chairman by suggesting in the file that the shifting of two toll plazas was as per contract conditions. It said the decision was against “public interest” and would have allowed the private developer to maximize toll collection.

In fact, the decision to allow shifting of toll plazas was a glaring one as both NHAI and its independent consultant had rejected the proposal thrice in March, April and May 2010. But only a month later, the consultant recommended the shifting of toll plazas “subject to approval of competent authority”. Two months later, then NHAI chief Birjeswar Singh gave in-principle approval.

This inconsistency in NHAI decisions also came under criticism from the Supreme Court where the case of shifting of toll plazas is being heard.

NHAI sources said the role of five more officials and the independent consultant is being investigated and appropriate action would be taken after the court proceedings.

Patel, a retired engineer from Gujarat, was earlier named by CBI for allegedly favouring a private company in tender allotment for widening of Nagpur-Betul highway. But the highway ministry never cleared CBI’s requests to prosecute him.

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