After delayed tender documents and suspect contract extensions, bounced cheques have now cast a shadow on the Capital’s toll tax collection.

No action taken

The BJP-led municipal corporations have not been able to recover the cheques for the last three months from the toll tax concessionaire, the Congress alleged here on Saturday.

Farhad Suri, the Leader of the Opposition in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, which is the lead body for toll tax negotiations, said the cheques issued by SMS-AAMW Tollways for April, May and June had been dishonoured.

According to inward return reports from the SDMC’s bank, the cheques of Rs.26 crore each bounced, citing “payment stopped by drawer” as the reason. This makes the concessionaire, which operates the 124 toll tax points in Delhi, criminally liable. But, as of Saturday, no action was taken against the company.

“Illegal contract”

“The holding company of the concessionaire, SMS Infrastructure, has BJP MP Ajay Sancheti as its vice-chairman. That is why the corporations are shielding the toll tax concessionaire, which has already been given an illegal contract extension,” Mr. Suri added.

The toll tax contract expired on May 16, but a new one is yet to be given as the tender document is still a work in progress.

SDMC chartered accountant-cum-financial advisor Rajesh Pathak said: “I moved a note to the Commissioner a few days ago recommending action against the concessionaire through the Toll Tax Department.”

However, BJP leaders in the corporation said there was nothing wrong with the payments.

“The concessionaire has cancelled these three cheques and given us three others of Rs.21 crore to Rs.23 crore citing losses. We had taken 36 post-dated cheques three years ago when the contract started,” said Leader of the House Subhash Arya.

He explained that a Delhi High Court order had in February reduced the number of toll windows at the Gurgaon toll plaza. The concessionaire took the matter to court saying it was incurring a daily loss of Rs.25 lakh.

“The court then told us to accept whatever money the concessionaire gives, while appointing a committee to sort out the matter,” said Mr. Arya.

Standing Committee chairperson Satish Upadhyay added that necessary action will be taken against the concessionaire when needed.

But, the Leader of the Opposition in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation questioned the delay in initiating criminal proceedings.

“If the contractor is giving cheques for lesser amounts, then why are the old cheques being deposited? And since they have been dishonoured, why hasn’t there been any action?” asked the Congress leader.

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