In its bid to fast-track dispute resolution and avoid the tendency of challenging such awards, the Union Transport ministry has constituted a committee to examine all arbitral awards or court orders where the settlement amount is more than ₹100 crore. The committee will also advise the NHAI whether to go for conciliation/ settlement or to file any appeal against arbitral awards or court orders. The panel headed by highways secretary Giridhar Aramane will also look into cases where appeals are pending in various courts and will advise the highways authority on whether it should continue these court cases or go for conciliation before the Conciliation Committee of Independent Experts (CCIE) which has been set up by the NHAI for settlement of claims.
The total claims raised by private contractors in disputes in the highway projects undertaken by the NHAI are estimated at around ₹1 lakh crore and the NHAI's counterclaims are to the tune of around ₹33,000 crore, said sources, adding that about 200 cases are pending before different high courts and the Supreme Court, involving contractual issues and in most cases these are related to claims and counterclaims. The panel has been set up following the Finance Ministry's direction to all ministries and government entities to put a system in place to avoid the tendency of challenging all arbitral awards.