Published On : Sat, Oct 14th, 2017

Patansaongi Toll Plaza contractor ‘sticks to his guns,’ refuses to pay Rs 1.12 cr dues despite NHAI warning

Nagpur: Adding one more chapter to the dubious Patansaongi Toll Plaza episode the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had shot a demand letter to the tainted contractor Pravin Pandey who has been operating the toll plaza without depositing the mandatory bank guarantee. The NHAI letter has directed the contractor to remit the total pending dues of Rs 1.12 crore including penalty amount by October 3, 2017.

However, the tainted contractor “disregarded” the demand letter with disdain prompting the Regional Officer M Chandrashekhar to write a “complaining” letter NHAI bosses sitting in Delhi. The only difference between the demand letter shot by NHAI Project Director N L Yeotkar to the contractor Pravin Pandey and the ‘complaining’ letter sent by the Regional Officer M Chandrashekhar to Delhi bosses is the amount figures. Whereas the NHAI Project Director has ordered the contractor to remit Rs 1.12 crore including the penalty, the ‘complaining’ letter of Regional Officer has quoted the remittance amount to be recovered from Pandey as Rs 84.30 lakh and the penalty of Rs 11.41 lakh (total Rs 95.71 lakh).

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.

The NHAI letter, under the signature of N L Yeotkar, Project Director, sent to the contractor Pravin Pandey at his Mumbai address 321, Kumud Villa, 1st Floor, Room No. 3, V P Road, Opera House, reminds him of his repeated failure to remit the pending dues. The letter with subject: “Engagement of User Fee Collecting Agency selected on the basis of competitive bidding through (e-tender) for Patansaongi Toll Plaza located at Km 25.700 for Nagpur-Saoner-Betul Section (NH-69) from Km 3.000 to Km 59.300 in the State of Maharashtra and from Km 137.000 to 257.400 in the State of Madhya Pradesh on DBFOT (Annuity) basis.”

The letter further says, “In spite of repeated reminders, you have not deposited your dues in time. As on date a sum of Rs 80,07,668 is due from you and as per the next banking day i.e. 3.10.2017 the total dues would be Rs 1,12,58,435 (including penalty and weekly instalment of 3.10.2017).”

The NHAI took the repeated failure on the part of the contractor Pravin Pandey to remit the pending dues very seriously. Viewing the contractor’s failure as breach of Clause 19 of the Contract Agreement, the Project Director Yeotkar has put Pandey on notice. “If you disregard this notice and fail to remit the pending dues of Rs 1,12,58,435 by 3.10.2017 the same will be recovered from your Cash Performance Security,” the NHAI letter says.

However, the contractor did not pay any heed to the warning and continues to play his foul game by not remitting the money as demanded by the NHAI authorities.

The Regional Officer M. Chandrashekhar, in his ‘complaining’ letter sent to Rajneesh Kapoor, General Manager (CO), NHAI, New Delhi, pointed out that the Tolling Agency has not yet deposited penalty of Rs 11.41 lakh as per the decision of NHAI Headquarters. The agency is continuously defaulting paying its remittance and the amount of shortfall is Rs 84.30 lakh as on 3.10.2017.

– Rajeev Ranjan Kushwaha