As RK Pandey, Member (Projects), National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), says, “NHAI is the source of funding for our budgetary support, toll collection and cess money; apart from that, we borrow money. However, it is not like we are borrowing for the completion of projects.”
The average cost of acquiring land has reportedly soared to Rs 25 million per hectare compared to Rs 8 million in 2012. The increased level of borrowing could be mainly owing to the spiralling cost of land acquisition and reduced fund flow from cess on fuel. However, reports suggest these hurdles have not stopped the highway authority from stepping up the pace of road construction. The average length of roads constructed per day between FY2012 and FY2014 was 10.9 km, while the same increased to 22 km between FY2016 and FY2018.
“For market borrowing, we have a number of ways,” adds Pandey. “It could be through bonds, masala bonds or banks, whichever is the cheapest.”
Last year, NHAI reportedly spent nearly Rs 950 billion laying new roads, of which a third went towards acquiring land. It is expected to pay back its lenders through earnings from toll revenue and by selling the rights to collect toll for already profitable roads.
- DIKSHA JAWLE