New Delhi: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will be the flag-bearer of the Central government's asset monetization scheme with a plan to raise about Rs 30-40,000 crore through monetization of its operational stretches over the next two years.
The officials of the NHAI indicated that the disruptions in wake of the pandemic deferred some of its asset monetization plan, but with traffic fast returning to near-normal levels now, about Rs 10,000 crore of road assets would be monetized by NHAI in the current year (FY 22) and the exercise would kick up the pace next year with doubling or tripling of the numbers in the next few years.
With India in the strong grip of the 2nd wave of Covid pandemic in the months of April and May, and subsequent restrictions on mobility and partial lockdown, tolling at national highways nose-dived. In a report released earlier, ICRA had estimated that sequentially tolling had fallen by about 10 percent in April and close to 30 percent in May. Thereafter, there has been a marked improvement in traffic on highways reaching 90 percent of pre-Covid levels and has crossed that level too now.
The National Highways Authority official said that the entity is in touch with a clutch of investors and soon bids would be invited for taking the operational NHAI project under the “toll-operate-transfer” model. The investor recovers investment through tolls collected for a stretch over a period of concession spreading over 20-30 years. Once the cost with agreed return is achieved, the road returns back to NHAI.