The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) settled 60 cases worth Rs 4076 crores during FY 2021-22. “Keeping its commitment to provide speedy resolution of disputes with contractors/concessionaires through conciliation, NHAI has settled 60 cases for Rs. 4,076 crores against the claimed amount of Rs. 14,590 crores during FY 2021-22” the authority said in a statement.
“The authority resolved these cases with a settlement amount that was about 28 percent of the total claimed amount. Last year, NHAI settled 60 cases for Rs. 5,313 crores against the claimed amount of Rs. 14,207 crore” it added.
The NHAI had earlier started the process of conciliation by constituting three Conciliation Committees of Independent Experts (CCIE) of three members each. These Conciliation Committees are headed by retired officials from the judiciary, senior experts from public administration, finance and from the private sector.
Till date, out of 251 cases that have been referred to CCIE (Conciliation Committees of Independent Experts), out of which 155 cases of claims by contractors and concessionaires worth Rs. 38,747 crores have been successfully settled for an amount of Rs. 13,067 crores.
NHAI has also set up a Dispute Resolution Board (DRB) which helps in getting firsthand information of onsite activities and resolving the dispute before it escalates to arbitration/court. Under this mechanism, a three-member board is constituted who visit the project site as and when required or at least six times in a year. So far, 97 DRBs have been constituted to help solve disputes and mitigate issues pertaining to different projects, NHAI statement said.
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry in January this year had constituted a committee to examine all arbitral awards or court orders where the settlement amount is more than Rs 100 crore. The committee will also advise the NHAI whether to go for conciliation/ settlement or to file any appeal against arbitral awards or court orders.
The panel headed by highways secretary Giridhar Aramane will also look into cases where appeals are pending in various courts and will advise the highways authority on whether it should continue these court cases or go for conciliation before the Conciliation Committee of Independent Experts (CCIE) which has been set up by the NHAI for settlement of claims.
The total claims raised by private contractors in disputes in the highway projects undertaken by the NHAI were estimated at around Rs 1 lakh crore and the NHAI’s counterclaims are to the tune of around Rs 33,000 crore, sources said.