Saturday, January 24, 2009

Six bidders rekindle highway hope

AMIT GUPTA

NH-33 project makes headway
Ranchi, Jan. 23: The Ranchi-Rargaon-Jamshedpur 163.5-km road project, which is part of National Highway 33, found takers on the last day of the initial bidding.

The over Rs 1,400-crore project, which would be executed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) as part of phase-III of the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP), received bids from six construction majors, including many from south Indian states.

A Delhi-based NHAI official told The Telegraph that the six bidders include KMC Construction, IVRCL Infrastructure and Projects Limited, BSCPL Infrastructure Private Limited (all from Hyderabad), Madhu Con, DSC Limited and GVK.

Today was the last date to apply for the project being undertaken on Build, Operate & Transfer (BOT) toll basis. Sale for the bid papers started on November 20, 2008, with January 3, 2009, being the last date. This was extended to January 12 and finally to January 23.

NHAI sources said construction majors were earlier reluctant to invest in Jharkhand due to Naxalite threats, poor law and order situation and political instability.

NHAI general manager Lieutenant Colonel Chandan Vatsa, who is overseeing the project, told The Telegraph after initial hiccups six construction majors had finally sent their bids.

Vatsa said the authorities would now assess the technical bids and ultimately select construction majors to take part in the final bidding project some time soon.

NHAI has failed thrice to get a bidder in the past few years for the proposed four-lane project between Hazaribagh and Ranchi, a 75-km stretch within NH-33 itself under the BOT-toll basis.

Ultimately, the planning commission decided to convert the same under BOT-annuity. But the project, which is in the financial bidding stage, is taking time, as one of the three final bidders is Maytas Infrastructures, which at present is in a financial quagmire.

Under BOT-toll, the contractors are supposed to invest the entire project cost and realise the same by collecting toll taxes for the next 30 years.

Under BOT-annuity, although the construction company would invest the entire project cost, it will receive a fixed annual sum as annuity from the government, which would ensure that the former gets back its invested money.

NHAI has decided to extend the date for financial bidding of the over Rs 580-crore Hazaribagh-Ranchi project to January 27, which has been hanging in balance since 2000.

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