A consent order passed by the Delhi High Court has finally removed all the hurdles for settlement of the long-standing disputes involving the Delhi-Gurgaon BOT (Toll) project on NH-8.
In an order dated February 19, 2014, the high court approved the agreement reached with regard to the project between NHAI, the concessionaire and senior lenders led by the IDFC.
Following the High Court’s approval of the agreement, Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd has been substituted as the concessionaire in the concession agreement by a special purpose vehicle formed by the senior lenders. A new concessionaire will have to be brought in within 90 days from the date of takeover of the project which is February 19, 2014. With the substitution of DGSCL as the concessionaire, its liabilities and obligations have been assumed and taken over by IDFC. The liabilities and obligations will pass on to the new concessionaire once appointed.
As per the agreement, the claim of Rs.988 crore against NHAI has been withdrawn by DGSCL. The claim was made for change in scope of work. The concession, therefore, passes on to the lenders without the claim. NHAI recognises the financial institutions as senior lenders for the project at the debt as would have been outstanding to the lenders led by SBI amounting to Rs.1,142 crore. The lenders or the substitute concessionaire need to implement the various provisions of the MoU that was signed between NHAI and DGSCL in September 2012 within a reasonable period of time.
The concerned parties further agreed that once the revised toll notification came into effect, there will be no toll or user fee collection from km 24.000 toll plaza (Sirhol). What this means is that people commuting between Delhi and Gurgaon now do not need to pay toll. The km 24.000 toll plaza will be dismantled. The lenders or the substitute concessionaire are allowed to collect toll only at the km 42.000 toll plaza (Kherki Dhaula) by combining the rates at the km. 24.000 toll plaza and km 42.000 toll plaza. The local traffic rates and discounts applicable earlier at the km 42.000 toll plaza will continue. The increase in toll rates on account of escalation/wholesale price index, which was provided for in the concession agreement but withheld, has been allowed.
The concession agreement for development of the Delhi-Gurgaon section of NH-8 into an access controlled highway on BOT basis for a concession period of 20 years was signed between the NHAI and Jaypee-DSC Ventures Ltd (subsequently renamed as Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd) in April 2002. The concessionaire paid a negative grant of Rs.61.06 crore to the NHAI for the project. The concession period started in January 2003 and commercial operations commenced in January 2008. The project had become mired in controversies due to various reasons including traffic congestion at the toll plazas and entry and exit locations, refinancing of debt by the concessionaire without the consent of NHAI and under reporting of toll revenue. In February 2012, NHAI issued a termination notice to the concessionaire following which the project got entangled in litigation.