The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is set to garner a little over Rs 6,267 crore as upfront payment from monetisation of the 135-km-long eastern peripheral expressway (EPE) project in Delhi-NCR through the toll-operate-transfer (TOT) route.
EPE, the country’s first green expressway, starts near Kundli on NH1 and ends at Palwal on NH2 to join the western peripheral expressway. It has a closed tolling system, under which toll is collected only for the distance travelled.
Sources said financial bids for the seventh bundle on offer under the TOT model were opened on Thursday, in which the Indian Highway Concession Trust has quoted the highest Rs 6,267 crore to take the expressway on a long-term lease. Maple Highways, a private company incorporated in Singapore, is the sponsor of the Indian Highway Concession Trust.
The proceeds will be used to lay newer highway stretches and service debt. NHAI’s debt stood at Rs 3.38 trillion as of November last year. The government recently decided not to disclose the reserve price for the TOT bundles, leaving it to the market to discover the price.
Under the TOT model, the operator collects user fee on the stretches following the prescribed rates by the NHAI to recoup their investments. The operator has to operate and maintain the stretches during the entire concession period, which varies between 15-30 years. There were six firms in the fray for the seventh bundle.
On March 15, NHAI opened financial bids for the sixth and eighth bundles. Mumbai-based Sekura Roads submitted the highest Rs 1,107-crore bid for the sixth bundle, while Indore-based Path Highways bid the highest at Rs 1,314-crore for the eighth bundle. The two bundles have a combined length of 246 km.
NHAI has been monetising highway stretches since 2018. It has made five attempts of monetisation through the TOT route before the ongoing lot, and tasted success in three of them.
The first one was a runaway success, fetching the authority Rs 9,681 crore, 1.5 times its base price, for stretches totalling 681 km passing through Gujarat and Maharashtra.
None of the bidders matched the floor price of Rs 5,632 crore for the 586.55-km length in the second TOT bundle, forcing NHAI to abandon the plan. Cube Highways bagged the third bundle of 566 km for an upfront consideration of Rs 5,011 crore. The fourth bundle was annulled. The fifth bundle was in two tranches: one was bought by Adani and the second by DP Jain.
NHAI has drawn up a plan to monetise stretches of a total 21,700 km in the next three years, starting from 2022-23.