Funds to be raised for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have been hiked by 21 per cent in 2019-20 as the government prepares a blueprint for executing Bharatmala projects in a time-bound manner.
The authority has the approval to raise Rs 75,000 crore during the current year and government support of Rs 36,691 crore has been sanctioned.
In FY19, Rs 62,000 crore, a mix of debt raised from banks, toll revenue, and a road monetisation scheme, was to be raised.
This financial year, allocation has been made to the NHAI for major works under the Bharatmala Pariyojana, entrusted to the organisation for execution. The money will come from the Central Road Infrastructure Fund (CRIF), Permanent Bridges Fee Fund (PBFF), and Monetisation of National Highways Fund (MNHF).
The provision is mainly for expenditure on maintaining national highways is financed from Central Road Infrastructure Fund. The works are executed on agency basis by the Public Works Department of the States, Border Roads Organisation, National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) and NHAI.
While the overall allocation for NHAI has seen a rise in the last couple of years, the authority’s IEBR (Internal and Extra Budgetary Resources) has increased. IEBR is essentially is he money raised by the department itself in the form of profit, debt and equity.
In FY18, the NHAI’s IEBR was Rs 50,532.41 crore. It went up to Rs 62,000 crore in FY19 and further up to Rs 75,000 crore in FY20.
The massive expenditure is earmarked mainly for the government’s ambitious Bharatmala programme, which envisages construction of 20,000 km of roads at an estimated investment of Rs 7 trillion.
In the first phase to be undertaken over three-five years, the project would cost Rs 5.5 trillion. The project would be funded through various sources, including Rs 2.09 trillion from the market, Rs 1.06 lakh crore through private investment and Rs 2.19 lakh crore from the central road fund or toll collection.
The average cost of constructing 1 km of road is Rs 13 crore.
Bharatmala is the largest highways project after the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) which saw the development of about 50,000 km, and aims at improving connectivity in border and other areas.
The project that was first mooted in April 2015 aims to connect Gujarat and Rajasthan, then move to Punjab and cover Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and further to Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and right up to the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur and Mizoram.
The aim is to improve the speed of traffic flow on key corridors by providing uniform four-lane roads between two identified points.
After completion of the first phase of the ongoing Bharatmala programme, the focus would shift towards developing the state road network.