The Ministry has claimed that its proposed move will only boost the “Make in India policy” and attract local firms in highways construction.

The central government has proposed to make changes in the eligibility norms for highway projects. The proposal has been made to relax financial and technical eligibility criteria for the highway projects in order to ensure more participation of developers during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has already announced a few relaxations under “Aatma Nirbhar Scheme” to contractors. This has been done to overcome delays and relaxations are applicable for the ongoing as well as yet-to-start projects. A few relaxations have also been provided to bidders in “performance security”.

The Ministry was mulling to bring a few changes in bidding documents regarding the technical and financial capacity for two types of projects. These are Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) and build, operate, transfer (BOT) projects. Apart from this, the central government was also discussing to provide general relaxation for tunnel and bridge projects.

The Ministry has expressed concern over the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on its projects. The Ministry has assessed that the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic still lingers on. Most of the projects are delayed, the Union Ministry has said.

The Ministry has claimed that its proposed move will only boost the “Make in India policy” and attract local firms in highways construction. As per the present norms, only 21 out of the total 730 developers are eligible for engineering procurement and construction (EPC) projects worth over Rs 2,000 crore. As many as 72 developers can execute projects between Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 2,000 crore. Around 75 contractors can execute highways projects worth between Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore.

“Financial and technical capacity of the bidders are also affected due to COVID-19 and some bidders are unable to meet the eligibility criteria. Keeping in view the present uncertain conditions, it has been decided to relax the financial as well as technical eligibility criteria to encourage increased participation of the bidders,” the Roadways Ministry has said in an official statement.”As a result of deliberation, changes in the bidding documents of HAM and BOT projects relating to financial and technical capacity and provisions relating to tunnel and bridge projects, as approved by the competent authority, are forwarded herewith for taking further necessary action,” it said.

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