The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is optimistic about meeting the asset monetization target of Rs 20,000 crore in the current fiscal amid ongoing economic uncertainties and geo-political instability, a top official said.
The national road infrastructure building entity will raise the monetization amount through NHAI Infrastructure Investment Trust or InVIT and Toll-Operate-Transfer or TOT routes.
In the previous fiscal, NHAI had raised Rs 8,000 crore monetization for five projects accounting for 400 km through the first tranche of InVIT. InvITs are collective investment vehicles similar to a mutual fund, which enables direct monetary investment from individual and institutional investors in infrastructure projects which earn them a small portion of the income as a return.
“We are optimistic about asset monetization plan of Rs 20,000 crore in the current fiscal as appetite remains robust among investors,” NHAI chairperson Alka Upadhyaya told PTI in an interview.Asked about the cancellation of the sixth and eighth bundles of its asset monetization plan via the toll-operate-transfer (TOT) mechanism, she said, “We wanted to maximize return but now we will re-adjust and repackage it as it is not a major issue about lack demand for such asset.” ToT mechanism started a few years ago and NHAI so far has successfully monetized 21 stretches with an aggregate length of 1,540 km for Rs 23,000 crore from both domestic and international investors.
Under the TOT, public-funded highway stretches are given on long-term lease against upfront payment. The operator recoups investment through a collection of user fees on the stretches following the prescribed rates by the NHAI, but the operator has to operate and maintain the stretches during the entire concession period.
Upadhyaya said Bharatmala Pariyojana is India’s largest highway infrastructure program till date with the development of 34,800 km of National Highway corridors at an investment of Rs 5.35 lakh crore.
“NHAI will be able to award contracts for 30,000-31,000 km by 2025,” she said.The proposed 22 greenfield expressways and access-controlled corridors developed as part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana with a length of 8,300 km and a capital cost of Rs 3.6 lakh crore are expected to be the next lifeline of growth for the country and are expected to reduce emissions and generate annual fuel savings of over Rs 10,000 crore, officials said.
Upadhyaya said she will emphasize on road maintenance and accident-free roads. “NHAI is not only constructing roads of world-class standard but also taking a keen interest in building accident-free national highways.
This is our major focus and we are undertaking third-party road safety audits. To minimize the number of accidents on highways, some stretches have been identified as a zero fatality corridor,” the chairperson said.