Nagpur: The ‘dark chapter’ of illegal running of Patansaongi Toll Plaza by Mumbai-based contractor Pravin Pandey who has managed to save his contract by ‘hooks or crooks’ despite non-submission of mandatory bank guarantee to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) refuses to die down. On the contrary, one or another sordid episode continues to raise its ugly head time and again.
The latest development reveals a new twist that clearly shows NHAI officials are backing the contractor strongly in spite of his default of nearly Rs 80 lakh till date which includes the amount of penalty of Rs 11 lakh.
The NHAI officials in spite of all this default on the part of contractor Pravin Pandey are helping him technically as well as periodically in every instances against him. This shows they don’t bother about the daily revenue loss to the Government as Pandey is having good connections with the political as well as higher hierarchy in the NHAI. Instead of taking any punitive action for the same the NHAI Nagpur put the order to the contractor who built this road to put a barrier on the road patch were general local people who make their daily move for railway station and other daily routines. But now considering this as a loss to contractor due to less traffic on this Toll Plaza due to this restriction its mandatory for the vehicles to make their move from toll plaza and then take the U turn for their destination ultimately results them to pay the toll.
This “mandatory move” will ultimately affect the pockets of local vehicle owners and normal people who are making their daily moves from here. This favouritism to contractor shows that NHAI top hunks might be under the pressure of benefits provided by contractor to them.
Notably, Nagpur Today had run a series of reports exposing the sordid episode in which Nagpur Division of NHAI was cornered for permitting the contractor operate the toll plaza without submission of mandatory bank guarantee. Jolted by the Nagpur Today report, the NHAI authorities had embarked on massive cover-up to save their skin. Instead of forcing the errant contractor to submit bank guarantee, the NHAI Divisional office had put the ball in Delhi-based Headquarters’ court saying the bank guarantee issue is handled by the Delhi bosses.
Acting on the revealing reports being published by Nagpur Today, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had initially cancelled the contract of a Mumbai-based contractor who was found collecting toll at Patansaongi Toll Plaza on Saoner Road without submitting bank guarantee. The NHAI bosses at Delhi Headquarters viewed the matter seriously and cancelled the contract of tainted contractor Pravin Pandey who in “connivance” of Divisional babus was running the toll plaza “illegally.”
The NHAI had not only cancelled the contract but also floated a fresh tender for appointing a new contractor to run the Patansaongi Toll Plaza on Nagpur-Saoner-Betul Section of NH-69. September 11 was the last date for interested contractors to participate in the tender process. The tender was opened on September 12 for a period of three months. It is learnt that many reputed companies participated in the tender process. Two companies qualified on the basis of financial bid. It is further learnt that Nagpur’s Khadatkar Company bagged the contract for highest bid. But the work order was not issued to the company. Moreover, contract of the old operator was also not cancelled.
According to information, the current contractor Pandey has not remitted Rs 4.65 lakh collected at toll plaza from September 5 to 19 with Nagpur Division office of NHAI. Pandey reportedly used this money for payment of bank guarantee with NHAI headquarters 2-3 days ago. This exercise is aimed at saving his contract, it is learnt.