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Highway widening delayed

August 01, 2005 11:54 IST

The government will seek re-bidding for at least six highways projects, including two stretches to be given on a build-operate-transfer basis. This is likely to delay the north-south and east-west corridor highway widening programme.

"We will have to go in for fresh bidding for these projects due to lack of response from construction companies," a road transport and highway department official told Business Standard.

The lukewarm response may not bode well for 15 BOT stretches for which bids have been invited under the 7,300 km phase-2 of the National Highway Development Programme to be completed by 2007.

With a four-fold increase in the length of stretches to be taken up via the BOT route, the beginning has not been encouraging. The 76 km Palanpaur-Pindwara stretch in Rajasthan attracted just one bid despite three extensions of the deadline for submitting bids.

Officials said if the bid was not found feasible, the transport department would have to request the government to take over the project. The 62-km Bara-Orai stretch project in Uttar Pradesh had also not attracted any private company and hence, the tendering process would have to be repeated, the officials added.

Moreover, of the 57 projects worth Rs 12,000 crore (Rs 120 billion) awarded in the current year, only one was on the BOT basis. The Panipat expressway project was awarded to L&T on this basis last month.

Officials pointed out that the National Highway Authority of India was going slow on BOT projects as the final version of the model concession document was awaited.

To add to NHAI woes, even the government-funded contracts were not finding any takers.

Bids have to be invited again for four government-funded projects in Bihar on the Purnia-Muzaffarpur stretch. While two stretches received only one bid, the other two did not get any response at all, according to officials.

Meanwhile, NHAI is trying its best to award as many contracts under the much delayed phase-2 as possible. This phase is just 10 per cent complete. In July, Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) worth NHAI-funded projects across about 400 km have been awarded.
Vishaka Zadoo in New Delhi
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