Govt saved banks from Rs 3 lakh cr of NPAs by clearing pending road projects: Nitin Gadkari

New Delhi: The government on Tuesday claimed in the Rajya Sabha that it has saved Indian banks from Rs 3 lakh crore of NPAs by helping clear pending road projects in the country since 2014. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari informed the Rajya Sabha that there are 415 road projects where 95 per cent of work is complete but have been categorised in the delayed projects category.

He said the government would soon carry out state-wise monitoring of all such pending or delayed projects and help clear them at the earliest.

“There are 415 projects where 95 per cent of work is complete and are termed as delayed projects. When our government came in 2014, there were projects worth Rs 3.85 lakh projects which were shut for various reasons,” he told the house during Question hour.

The minister was replying to a question about whether the government has any plan to restart the delayed or stalled road projects in the country and if a further action plan is being prepared after ascertaining the reasons for the delay in these projects.
Gadkari claimed that after government formation, it talked to bankers and cleared various bottlenecks including issues like land acquisition and coordinated with state governments.

“We have saved Indian bank from 3 lakh crore NPAs,” he told the members.

The transport minister also said that during Covid, certain projects were granted an extension of work and such projects have also come under delayed projects.

“The projects have been delayed because of various reasons including by contractors or other issues beyond our control. We will within three months do state-wise monitoring of all projects which are incomplete and are delayed,” the minister told the house.

In his written reply, Gadkari said, “The government constantly monitors sanctioned projects and as part of this exercise, 719 delayed National Highway projects have been identified across various States.

“These projects are not stalled but have gone beyond the scheduled date of completion on account of various reasons such as above-average monsoon rainfall in some States, COVID-19 pandemic, bottlenecks in land acquisition, statutory clearances/permissions encroachment removal, nonavailability of soil/aggregate, law & order, financial crunch of Concessionaire, poor performance of Contractor/Concessionaire etc.”

“Out of these 719 projects, 268 projects have a delay of less than one year; and 438 projects are expected to be completed in the current financial year,” he also said.

The minister said the government is closely monitoring the construction progress of these projects and proactively working with project implementing agencies, State Governments, contractors/developers.

Periodic review meetings are being held at various levels to resolve the bottlenecks and complete these delayed projects. In order to avoid project delays due to the unavailability of land, the government is ensuring that projects get awarded after notifying 80 per cent of the required land under section 3(D) of the National Highways Act 1956.

For projects delayed or stalled due to other reasons like delay in fulfilment of the Government’s condition precedent, Contractors’/Concessionaires’ cash flow problems, etc.

He said the government has taken several steps for their completion such as premium re-scheduling, securitization of road sector loans, one-time fund infusion, exit plan for equity investors, mutual termination/cancellation of awarded road projects and re-bidding, revamping the dispute resolution system, relaxations in contract provisions under Atmanirbhar Bharat to improve the liquidity of funds available with contractors/developers, etc.

“For projects delayed or stalled due to reasons attributable to the contractor, penal action is taken against the contractor as per contract provision. Further, close coordination with other concerned departments such as environment, forest etc. is being done so as to ensure timely clearances for project execution,” he said in his written reply.

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