Maintaining that the Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd (DGSCL),which operates the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway,had inefficient tolling,faulty toll plan and lack of traffic incident management system,the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has asked the Delhi High Court to dismiss the operators petition against the contract termination notice sent by the authority.
In its reply to the operators amended petition,NHAI has severely criticised DGSCL for its alleged failure to live up to the expectation of the public,which,it said,was now forced to spend between 45 minutes and one hour to cross the toll plaza.
The operator indulged in severe and gross irregularities/defaults in performing its obligation under the Concessionaire Agreement,which caused great discomfort and inconvenience to general public,besides many accidents and lack of traffic incident management system,also leading to agitation at sites, read NHAIs reply.
It said various organisations,including some NGOs,were agitating against the operation of the toll plaza in the wake of inordinate delays and time wastage of the users. As per the NHAI,this was a direct result of the non-compliance of its obligations by the DGSCL.
Due to the inability of the petitioner to take corrective measures,the time required for commuters to cross the toll plaza itself stretches between 45 minutes and one hour during the peak hours,establishing the mismanagement by the petitioner,specifically at the toll plaza and on the project highway, the reply stated.
Inordinate delays,NHAI said,defeated the very purpose of having a toll road.
The authority added that the operator sought to raise extra-contractual issues like amending the laws to prevent or penalise cash users entering tag lanes only to cover up its defects and wriggle out of its liability.
NHAI has further accused the operator of fraudulent practices by obtaining a loan from the Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) behind its back and claimed that DGSCL acted as a vehicle for financing the requirement of the parent company.
Also challenging the additional grounds in the amended petition,NHAI said while cure period notice for non-compliance with the contractual terms was duly issued to the DGSCL for faulty toll plan and Operation and Maintainer (O&M) Plan,there was no need to issue a notice for their fraudulent financing since it was beyond the scope of their contract and incurable.
The authority also dismissed the operators argument that the O&M Plan for 2011-12 was approved by an independent consultant following a deliberation with an NHAI project director,and contended that the said meeting was not convened in accordance with the laws and a departmental inquiry was already ordered against the NHAI official for his participation.
It is further submitted that if such conduct and fraudulent acts are allowed and go unpunished,it will gravely prejudice the entire public-private partnership concept and it will reflect that private parties are free to enjoy the benefits at the cost of the sufferings of public, the reply added.
Justice S Muralidhar has taken the reply on record and asked DGSCL to file its response. May 21 has been fixed as the next date of hearing.