New Delhi: Desperate to get highway projects moving, the National Highways Authority of India, or Nhai, has decided to consider clearing bids even for projects in which only a single company has submitted a bid.
Road transport and highways secretary Brahm Dutt told reporters on Friday that out of 34 highway projects put up for auction recently, Nhai has received bids only for 16. In six of these, only one company each has placed bids.
Dutt said the companies that have submitted bids for these six projects include Reliance Infrastructure Ltd.
According to norms, Nhai is not expected to open bids under such circum- stances.
However, the highways regulator is likely to take up the issue before the Union cabinet and seek clearance to open these bids, Dutt said.
“Encouraging trends now indicate the sector will see at least Rs35,000 crore investment in calendar year 2009,” Dutt said. “Nhai is likely to complete projects worth Rs20,000 crore, against a target of Rs31,000 crore fixed for the fiscal 2008-09.”
Nhai has also decided to consider converting toll-based projects, for which they have not received response, into annuity-based contracts to make them more lucrative for highway contractors, Dutt said.
In annuity-based contracts, Nhai will pay a sum agreed upon to concessionaires on phased completion of projects.
This is opposed to toll-based contracts, where concessionaires levy a usage fee and share revenue with Nhai.
In order to encourage private players to invest in highway projects, the government has already approved disbursing the entire viability gap funding—grants that help make projects viable for concessionaires—within the construction period of the project rather than spread it over an extended period.
Nhai expects to spend some Rs28,000 crore in the financial year ending March as against a target of Rs35,000.