Press Trust of india

Highways Ministry releases over Rs 10k cr for developers to expedite work

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New Delhi:  The government on Wednesday said it has released over Rs 10,000 crore to developers amid COVID-19 to boost the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ scheme and expedite highways construction.

Another sum of Rs 2,475 crore is under process to be released, it said.

“A sum of Rs 10,339 crore has been released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) during the COVID-19 period under the simplified payment process as envisaged in the ambitious Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme. Another sum of Rs 2,475 crore is being processed and is likely to be released soon,” the ministry said in a statement.

The government has taken various steps to ensure not only ease of doing business but also to boost stakeholder confidence in building quality road infrastructure in the country, the statement added.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has simplified the payment process under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme, and contractors’ payments are being made every month instead of Milestone achievement basis.

This has been proved extremely beneficial towards timely completion of National Highway projects in the country, it said.

The government said it has extended a number of relief packages for its contractors and concessionaires owing to COVID-19 scenario.

“Retention money (which is a part of the Performance Security till construction period) is being released in proportion to the work already executed in accordance with the Contract specification, and retention money for up to six months’ period is not deducted from the Bills raised by the Contractor,” the statement said.

For HAM (hybrid, annuity mode)/ BOT (build, operate, transfer) contracts, performance guarantee is released on pro-rata basis, it said, adding out of total 1,253 applications under 1,155 projects for this relief, Rs 3,527 crore has been released, while over Rs 189 crore is under process.

The extension is being given to contractors/concessionaires for meeting their obligation under the contract for up to six months, depending on site conditions.

Out of total 207 applications under 196 projects for this relief, Rs 34 crore has been released, while Rs 15 crore is under process.

“Relaxation is given…to provide monthly payment to the Contractor for the work done and accepted as per the specification of the contract during the month EPC/HAM Contract. Out of total 863 applications under 774 projects for this relief, Rs 6,526 crore has been released, while over Rs 2,241 crore is under process,” the statement said.

Direct payment is being made to approved sub-contractor through an escrow account, it said, adding out of total 21 applications under 19 projects for this relief, Rs 241 crore has been released, while over Rs 27 crore is under process.

Besides, the extension has been allowed to consultants depending on site condition, it said.

“During this Force Majeure Event, they may be considered as if they were on duty. Out of total 31 applications under equal number of projects for this relief, Rs two crore has been released, while Rs one crore is under process,” the statement said.

It also said the concession period of BOT contracts is being extended.

For loss in collection of the user fee, the concession period is extended in accordance with the contract till the time daily collection is below 90 per cent of the average daily fee, the ministry noted.

For all National Highway Tolling Contracts, loss in collection of fee (remittances) is compensated in accordance with the contract, it added.

The ministry has also undertaken settling of contractors’ issues, including dues, through arbitration.

Conciliation committees of independent experts (CCIEs) have been formed for this purpose, it said, adding all contractors are being called for conciliations for expeditious settlement of their claims and get their payments released immediately.

Forty-seven cases involving claims of Rs 14,248 crore have been settled during this year, and discussions are underway on another 59 cases, according to the statement.

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