Hyderabad, Nov 7 IANS | 2 years ago

India's leading construction group Larsen and Toubro (L and T) Thursday denied allegations that it paid kickbacks to bag the Hyderabad Metro Rail project, or for getting any additional land for it.

Claiming that it is not distracted by the allegations, the company made it clear that it remained committed to the project and would commence the first phase March 21, 2015 as per schedule.

Reacting to allegations by some politicians that L and T paid money to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, a top company official said no money was handed over to anybody.

V.B. Gadgil, chief executive and managing director, L and T Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd (LTMRHL), rubbished the allegations made by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao.

He said no transaction of any nature took place during tendering or afterwards.

"No money has been handed over. No exchange of money took place unsolicited or in any manner," Gadgil told reporters here Thursday.

"This is not our culture. L and T is a national company well known for its ethics, professional and business attitude. We work all over the country and we are in the business for more than 75 years. We take pride that we are prime institution in construction and engineering," he said.

L and T is building a 72-km elevated Metro Rail project at a cost of Rs.14,132 crore, which is said to be one of the biggest projects in the world in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

The TRS chief had Tuesday demanded an immediate halt to the project, claiming to have specific information that Kiran Reddy was the recipient of hundreds of crores of rupees from L and T as kickbacks, in return for allotment of land for the project.

He had also said that after the creation of Telangana state, a probe would be ordered into the irregularities and action would be taken. Gadgil also clarified that no additional land was given to them.

"Not a single cent of additional land was given to us as favour. This project is governed by the concession agreement and we thoroughly follow that agreement," he said, and pointed out that many globally reputed companies participated in the tendering process.

N.V.S. Reddy, managing director of the Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd (HMRL) said all documents were available for public scrutiny.

"We have courage of conviction. We have not done anything wrong. We are prepared to face inquiry," he said, alleging that some vested interests were trying to distract them.

Reddy said that out of 212 acres required at depots, the government handed over 210 acres. The project also required 57 acres at metro stations, but only 34.5 acres could be given. He said the remaining land was being handed over at two alternate locations.

Reddy also clarified that the ownership of the land would remain with the government, and the land, along with the developed property, will come back to government after the 35-year concession period.

Reddy said apart from the Rs.14,132 crore main capital cost, L and T was also investing another Rs.2,200 crore for the first phase of Transit Oriented Development (ToD) or property development.

"Financial closure was for Rs.16,375 crore. If you take out the Rs.1,458 crore being given by government of India as viability gap funding, they are investing roughly Rs.15,000 crore and they have to get their returns. Even with simple calculation, at 12.5 percent interest rate, it comes to Rs.2,000 crore per annum," he said, and pointed out that only four out of 200 metro projects in the world are making money.

With regard to sub-contracts given by L and T, Gadgil said the tenders were given to mostly international companies. One of the major contracts was given to L and T Construction, a L and T group firm, but he clarified that they followed the procedures with due diligence.

While L and T has so far invested Rs.3,000 crore, the government has spent Rs.900 crore to fulfil its obligations. Gadgil said commitment is made for all Rs.14,000 crore because contracts were already placed and signed. He said wild allegations would make things difficult for the project as the delay of one day would cost them over Rs.5 crore.

On external commercial borrowing, Gadgil said they were continuously making efforts in this regard. He said the entire funds for the project were tied up. "It is only a mitigation effort. We will continue our efforts," he said.

(Posted on 07-11-2013)