Sion-Panvel toll road operator to quit over non-payment of dues
Sion Panvel Tollways (SPTPL) in a statement on Thursday alleged that it has not received dues from the public works department (PWD) “for the past two years”.
Sion Panvel Tollways (SPTPL) in a statement on Thursday alleged that it has not received dues from the public works department (PWD) “for the past two years”, defending its decision to quit.
The company plans to remove all toll barriers from Friday and would also stop all maintenance and operation activities.
The development comes as a setback for the public-private partnership (PPP) model at a time when the government wants to push the infrastructure growth with private participation.
The ₹1,700-crore Sion-Panvel road project had a concession period of 17 years but was exempted from toll collection by the Maharashtra government as part of BJP’s pre-poll promise. SPTPL was to receive payments for maintenance and operations, but has reportedly not received around ₹689 crore that PWD owes it.
“SPTPL has not been receiving the grant from PWD for maintenance and operations of the project since more than a year. Despite this, the company has shown unwavering commitment towards the project and the commuters but has been forced to take such extreme measures,” the statement said.
The company said that PWD has shown no interest in taking over the project despite SPTPL’s announcement for an earlier deadline of December 15. “SPTPL would make it a ‘deemed handover’ in case the concerned body does not come forward for the takeover on December 29, the new deadline,” the company said.
Industry executives have talked in hushed tones about delay in payments by various government agencies, but in this instance, the developer has pulled out of an operations project due to continued delays.
The developer and PWD have been in a blame game for the poor condition of the road that strategically links the city to Navi Mumbai and Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
During the monsoon this year, the roads deteriorated causing inconvenience to commuters. PWD blamed the developer, while the developer blamed PWD citing that it was unable to carry out repair work since it wasn’t getting paid.
In July, one person died and many others were injured in a pileup of vehicles on this road after a truck hit another carrier, which knocked two more vehicles. The police had booked executives of the developer for negligence in maintaining road, which resulted in accident.
The Bombay High Court later quashed the accusation, stating that while the accidents happened because of bad roads, executives can’t be charged for causing death or injury to commuters.