• State eyes global firms for highway works

    In a bid to curb corruption, the Public Works Department (PWD) has decided to give contracts for redevelopment of 30,000-km-long state highways only to big or global companies. The new tender condition will be that the company should have a turnover of at least Rs 2,000 crore so that small contractors are automatically barred. The ambitious project will be executed in two years’ time, bringing state highways up-to-speed with international standards. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has even invited big companies like L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji and Reliance as also Malaysian and Korean companies on November 21 to disclose plans to redevelop 30,000-km roads in the state.
    “The idea is to curb corruption at lower levels while redeveloping roads. Local contractors have a link with local leaders which impacts work quality. The road conditions are very poor across the state. Hence, we have decided to adopt contract policy from national highways. National and international companies will not indulge in local-level corruption and will build roads matching global standards. The CM has given in-principle approval to changing norms for road construction, allowing us to involve companies with a turnover of Rs 2,000 crore. Also, such companies will have machinery, expertise and engineers required to construct roads,” an official from the PWD department told The Asian Age.
    Going further, the government has worked out a new financial model where it will pay 60 per cent of the amount in the first three years, and the remaining will be paid in parts for the next 12 to 15 years. “The companies will be allowed to quote their price with interest as the government is going to pay them for the next 12 to 15 years, the entire cost of the project. We don’t have much funding to reconstruct roads and hence, the model will help us pay the cost,” the official said. Every company will be allotted work on 100 km of road and government expects a cost of Rs 1.5 crore per km, he added.
    The project includes state highways, roads connecting tehsils with district headquarters and a few tourists’ places. “The government wants roads to be completed in two years’ time. Good road condition can have a huge impact on the public and this can also be used as election agenda. The CM has called a meeting with companies on November 21 where we will take suggestions from them,” the official said.
    Meanwhile, a contractor who has been in the business of road contracts for the past 10 years, expressing surprise over the government’s new policy, said that this would affect small contractors adversely. He also refused to accept that corruption could be rooted out completely with the decision. “The perception that small contractors are corrupt is not correct. This will affect our business. But we have not heard anything concrete from the government yet,” he said on condition of anonymity. Riley Reiff Jersey

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