The three-way feud between IDFC, NHAI and concessionaire DS Construction over the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway moved a step closer to resolution on Monday after NHAI and IDFC-led consortium indicated their willingness to revive an earlier proposal to substitute the developer of the troubled project.
In a submission before the Delhi High Court, IDFC-led consortium sought “confirmation” of the NHAI on the May 2013 proposal seeking substitution of the current concessionaire along with restricting toll plaza operations only at 42 km.
During the proceedings, NHAI told the court that it was willing to give a consent order by the next day itself, however the concessionaire DS Construction sought more time from the court in order to iron out a few concerns that it has with the senior lender IDFC.
“There are a few concerns that we have as we have entered into an agreement with IDFC and we want the consent order to be consistent with the agreement. We will come back with a consent order but we will need some time to resolve them,” the counsel on behalf of the concessionaire told the court.
For now, the court has listed the matter for February 3.
According to the affidavit submitted by IDFC, it is willing to accept a May 2 proposal as per which all the legal and arbitration claims against the operator, Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity, the lenders and highway authority raised against each other will be considered as fully and finally settled. As per the IDFC proposal, only the toll plazas at 42 km will continue to operate, whereas the other toll plazas at 24 km and 61 km will cease to function.
Further, claims amounting to Rs 988 crore of DS Construction shall be withdrawn and the lenders will also have to appoint a new operator to run the operations and management of the toll plaza, substituting the existing concessionaire with the consent of the highway ministry and the NHAI board. IDFC had also said that NHAI's liability would remain unchanged and would not be increased in any manner.
On January 10, the lenders consortium led by IDFC and the developer had expressed their intention to exit the project and hand over the toll plaza to the government.
The dispute between NHAI, highway operator and the lenders has been going on for almost two years, where DS Construction had earlier placed claims of R988 crore related to the project work, which it has now agreed to let go off. Earlier, IDFC had requested for more time to get all the other lenders on board to take the settlement procedure forward.
In case the substitution happens, then the new operator will take over the project, along with all the other concessions and liabilities with respect to NHAI and the lenders, except the dues arising prior to the appointment of IDFC consortium as a receiver of the project. The understanding between DGSCL and IDFC comes at a time when both NHAI and the highway ministry have refused to entertain any charges being raised by the developer and lenders.