To promote competition and thereby hasten projects, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) plans to split the Eastern Peripheral project expressway into six packages. This is part of a larger strategy under which two more expressways are likely to be bid out in a similar way.
NHAI has floated three separate bids of shorter stretches for the Eastern Peripheral, which is likely to cover 135 km between Sonipat in Haryana to Uttar Pradesh, bypassing Delhi.
"Offer for qualification for the three packages has been made. The three packages would be further broken into three," said an official. Beside splitting the Eastern Peripheral Expressway worth Rs 3,500-4,000 crore into six, the Delhi-Meerut Expre-ssway worth Rs 6,500 crore might be split into three, the official added. Due to land acquisition issues, NHAI was also considering making the Delhi-Meerut Expressway (about 70 km) an elevated stretch.
|HITTING THE ROAD|
In order to deal with declining interest from private players to participate in the build, operate and transfer (BOT) mode, the government is increasingly shifting towards an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode, wherein the government funds the project. BOT requires a private-sector developer to raise and invest money for the construction of roads at its own risk, while NHAI acquires land for the project.
This will be the second time the Delhi-Meerut Expressway and Eastern Peripheral would be coming up for bidding. This is time, it's on the EPC mode.
Besides, a feasibility study on Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway for 540 km has also started.
"Efforts are on to put this project on bids in three phases. The first phase is expected to be bid out this financial year," said the official cited above.
The project is estimated to cost Rs 8,000-10,000 crore. The process for restructuring as many as 25-30 projects, which have been stuck due to various reasons, has already started in NHAI. Many road projects are stalled by developers running short of cash and the government has recently allowed some developers to reschedule the payment of premiums.
Premiums are rescheduled when developers cannot service their debt, operating expenditure or pay NHAI.
During 2010-2012, developers had bid aggressively when the government awarded a record 147 road projects worth Rs 1.47-lakh crore. At that time, India's economic growth was much higher but it slowed subsequently and input and inflationary costs have gone up since.
An earlier version of this story had incorrectly stated that Palwal is in Uttar Pradesh. It is in Haryana. The error is regretted and has been rectified