The government has made policy changes to prevent unnecessary delays in national highway projects. Under this, a provision has been made to submit the report of in-principle approval for changes in highway projects within a maximum period of six months. Not only this, consultants, authority engineers, project directors have been given an ultimatum to report all the ongoing projects by August 31. If there is delay in this, penal action will be taken against them.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued a policy circular on August 24. It mentions that many times consultant-authority engineers send proposals to NHAI to make changes in national highway projects. But NHAI officials return it without taking any decision on it. Therefore, the final decision is not taken on whether to keep the offer closed or running. It has been clarified in the circular that it has been observed in many cases that this tactic is adopted to avoid penalty to the contractor of highway projects which are running late. Because NHAI imposes hefty fine for delay in highway project due to contractor’s fault. Sometimes the contractor is even blacklisted. NHAI has to bear the increased cost of the project. The contractors are saved by the connivance of the consultant-engineer.
The circular states that NHAI officials often promise to pay claims in the name of changes in the project. After the completion of the project, the contractor challenges the claim in court. Due to this, the department has to pay crores of rupees to the contractor as a claim. NHAI has directed the Consultants, Authority Engineers and Project Directors to submit the ‘Scope of Change’ reports of all ongoing projects by August 31.
try to curb fraud
Experts say that after the approval of the National Highway project, many times changes are made in the name of road safety in underpasses, foot over bridges, overpasses, service lanes, alignment etc. This increases the budget of the project. Many times this change also becomes a means of earning money with the connivance of Engineer, Consultant, Authority Engineer. With the change in the rules, NHAI has tried to curb this fraud.