Jolted NHAI babus put contractor’s bank guarantee ball in Delhi bosses’ court

Jolted by the Nagpur Today report cornering NHAI authorities permitting a Mumbai-based contractor to collect toll at a post on Saoner Road without submission of mandatory bank guarantee, the Nagpur Division office of National Highway Authority of India has embarked on massive cover-up to save their skin. Instead of forcing the errant contractor to submit bank guarantee, the NHAI Divisional office has put the ball in Delhi-based Headquarters’ court saying the bank guarantee issue is handled by the Delhi bosses.

When Nagpur Today contacted the Nagpur Division Project Director of NHAI for his comments on the contractor running the Patansaongi-based toll plaza without submitting the mandatory bank guarantee, he feigned ignorance and pointed fingers at Delhi-based Headquarters. “The entire tendering process of toll contract is handled by Delhi bosses. The Mumbai-based contractor Pravin Pande was awarded the contract to collect toll at Patansaongi plaza on Saoner Road by the Headquarters. The Nagpur Division of NHAI was only directed to “handover” the toll plaza to the new contractor. That we did,” the Project Director quipped.

The construction of National Highway stretch between Nagpur-Saoner-Betul was completed two years ago. After completion of the work, NHAI had started the toll plaza at Patansaongi. Till the last month, the responsibility of recovering the toll from passing vehicles was with the local youths as part of providing them employment. Exactly a month ago, the NHAI had floated a tender for running the toll plaza. The tender was allotted to a controversial Mumbai-based contractor named Pravin Pande. According to terms and conditions of the tender, it was mandatory for the contractor to deposit an amount equal to an average collection of 30 days with NHAI in the form of DD and bank guarantee of equal amount. But the contractor has still not deposited the bank guarantee to the NHAI. Even after this “lapse,” the contractor is running the toll plaza in connivance with the NHAI officials.

According to NHAI, it had given time of 15 days twice to the contractor for submitting the bank guarantee but he chose to disregard the timeframe. It is learnt that the contractor is searching for a financer in Nagpur district itself for arranging the bank guarantee. Pande is running the toll plaza even without completing a single condition of the tender. There is no fire-fighting tool, disregarding the terms of labour office, employees without official uniform, employees without proper identity cards etc. It is being alleged that the palms of General Manager/Chief Executive Officer were greased by the contractor in lieu of running the toll plaza without bank guarantee.

Raising the issue, Saoner Congress MLA Sunil Kedar had said that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has given permission to the Mumbai-based contractor to run a toll plaza at Patansaongi on Saoner Road without submission of mandatory bank guarantee. “The toll plaza at Patansaongi comes under his constitution. The tainted contractor Pravin Pande was supposed to submit the bank guarantee on or before the day of agreement is signed. But the bank guarantee was not submitted by the contractor at the time of signing of agreement. It amounted to a scam perpetrated by the contractor in connivance with the concerned NHAI officials.

The furious Saoner MLA Sunul Kedar has shot letters to Union Surface Transport and National Highway Minister, Chief Minister, NHAI Chief, Nagpur District Collector, Nagpur Rural Superintendent of Police and Nagpur-based NHAI Project Director and apprised them about the illegal running of the toll plaza. He has demanded stern action against the guilty officials of NHAI as well as the contractor.