At Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, lenders set to take wheel

fe Bureau Posted online: Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : The Delhi High Court on Wednesday approved an agreement between the IDFC-led consortium of lenders to Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway and the concessionaire DGSCL, which paves the way for the lenders to take over the expressway.

The proposal submitted by the senior lenders says the IDFC-led consortium shall have a period of 90 days to bring in a new operator to replace DGSCL. Meanwhile, the consortium will act as a receiver while the responsibility of maintaining the expressway and collecting the toll, a senior banker said, is to be shouldered by Feedback Brisa, a firm in which IDFC has an indirect stake.

After Wednesday’s order, commuters will no longer have to pay toll at the 24-km mark — at Sirhaul on the the Delhi-Gurgaon border; the plaza is to be dismantled as soon as a notification to the effect is issued by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH). However, MoRTH has revised the toll at the plaza at the 42-km mark — Kherki Dhaula — where the R56-per-car toll will now also include the rates earlier charged at the 24-km mark, and the charges also reflect the annual inflation adjustment which was put on hold for the last two years due to the dispute between the NHAI and the concessionaire.

The Delhi High Court’s order accepting the settlement between the stakeholders of the expressway project, NHAI, the IDFC-led consortium and concessionaire DGSCL, brings to an end a protracted legal dispute.

Analysts estimate toll collections at the two existing plazas to be R75 lakh per day, resulting in annual revenues of R260 crore. While the lenders will take a hit since no toll will be levied at Sirhaul, the extent of the loss will depend on the revision of the toll at the 42-km mark. “There will be some loss of revenue since we will not capture the Delhi to Gurgaon traffic any longer,” the banker said, adding that the bulk of the traffic would comprise commercial vehicles.

The IDFC-led consortium comprises Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur.

The total outstandings of R1,600 crore will be restructured and provided for in line with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines for such assets. The expressway was originally funded by HUDCO and the loan was subsequently re-financed by an SBI-led consortium before the IDFC-led consortium took over.

Once the settlement goes through, DGSCL will stand discharged of all existing and future claims, liabilities and obligations incurred by it under the 2002 concession agreement and the 2012 memorandum of understanding. Additionally, as per the bilateral agreement signed between the bankers and the concessionaire on February 17, IDFC will bear the dues of DGSCL, till a new concessionaire is selected to substitute DGSCL. NHAI has consented to the aforementioned proposal subject to the condition that no liability shall accrue to it under the bilateral agreement.