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I-T raids, unpaid dues, corporate-governance issues: NHAI’s new tenders attract sketchy contractors

NHAI figures show the participation of listed entities has not just decreased but diminished, and new companies with INR1,000 crore annual revenue and moderate credit-rating risk are entering the fray. While the highways authority evaluates bidders under financial and technical criteria, it’s high time to introduce corporate governance as the third parameter.
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27 Feb 2020 4 Mins Read 1 comments
Union minister Nitin Gadkari with NHAI chairman Yudhvir Singh Malik at a press conference on the Bharatmala project, in New Delhi on October 25, 2017. Getty Images
Union minister Nitin Gadkari with NHAI chairman Yudhvir Singh Malik at a press conference on the Bharatmala project, in New Delhi on October 25, 2017.
“Unpaid vendors”, “over 100 kg of unaccounted gold seized in income-tax raids”, and “RTI activist claims kidnapping”— these are some of the headlines that a quick Google search throws up if you seek information on the new list of NHAI contractors. While these companies have been receiving the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) contracts for a couple
which despite its power still fell short of pointing out the discrepancies at IL&FS. The unlisted space has no regulator and hence is more vulnerable. It may be high time for the NHAI to introduce a third parameter to evaluate bidders — the one which will analyse companies on corporate-governance issues. ( Graphics by Abdul Shafiq and Sadhana Saxena)
“Unpaid vendors”, “over 100 kg of unaccounted gold seized in income-tax raids”, and “RTI activist claims kidnapping”— these are some of the headlines that a quick Google search throws up if you seek information on the new list of NHAI contractors. While these companies have been receiving the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) contracts for a couple which despite its power still fell short of pointing out the discrepancies at IL&FS. The unlisted space has no regulator and hence is more vulnerable. It may be high time for the NHAI to introduce a third parameter to evaluate bidders — the one which will analyse companies on corporate-governance issues. ( Graphics by Abdul Shafiq and Sadhana Saxena)

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