14 March 2016 07:02:09 IST

PNG Tollways notice: Maharashtra, Central officials to meet on Wed

L&T-Ashoka Buildcon SPV wants out of road project over toll issues

The Highways Ministry seems to have taken a serious view of the termination notice served by PNG Tollways to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), seeking an exit from the Pimpalgaon-Nashik-Gonde highway project in Maharashtra, citing lack of State support for toll collection.

Highways Secretary Sanjay Mitra is set to meet the Maharashtra Chief Secretary on Wednesday to work out a solution. The NHAI has already written to the Highways Ministry and the Maharashtra Chief Secretary in this regard.

PNG Tollways, the special purpose vehicle (SPV) of L&T Infrastructure Development Project Ltd and Ashoka Buildcon, served the termination notice last week, saying it had taken a hit of ₹100 crore on account of the resistance to pay toll at a plaza near Nashik.

It sought a termination payment of ₹1,600 crore from NHAI. The project also has exposure from major infrastructure firms and investors such as L&T and SBI Macquarie.

“A solution will be worked out soon. A meeting is slated for Wednesday to consider various options. We also need to get a report on the ground situation,” said a source in the Ministry, requesting anonymity.

The six-lane project in Maharashtra is already complete and operational, but the developers are facing problems in collecting toll at a plaza near Nashik.

Two options As of now, two options have been suggested — one is to make the Maharashtra government compensate the developer, and the other is for the Centre to deduct the impacted toll revenue from the Central Road Fund that would have accrued to Maharashtra.

Ruling out that any of these solutions would set a precedent for solving such instances in future, the source said the solutions would be worked out on a case-by-case basis.

Incidentally, a toll plaza on the Delhi-Gurgaon national highway had to be shifted ahead, and away from the city, following a public outcry over traffic jams. However, the project also had other lender-related issues.

“The success of public-private partnership projects depends on support from the State government. Both the Centre and States should be on the same page on taking forward projects, as these are implemented in the States,” M Murali, Director General, National Highways Builders Federation, told BusinessLine .