The highways ministry has identified 104 toll roads for monetisation. The government plans to earn Rs 80,000-1,00,000 crore over a period of 20-25 years from monetisation of these completed public funded national highway (NH) projects.
The ministry intends to give out these projects to private companies in toll-operate-transfer mode. The private companies entrusted for the purpose will collect toll as well as will be responsible for the maintenance of the stretch for which they are collecting toll. Currently, the overall receipts of the ministry is Rs 6,500 crore through toll a year. For the government, the proceeds from such monetisation will be used for new roads as well maintenance of national highways.
"We have identified 104 public-funded national highways and are planning to auction them to private parties for collection of toll and maintenance for 20-25 years. We expect to earn Rs 80,000-1,00,000 crore over 25 years," said a senior official in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
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The stretches to be auctioned will be finalised once the proposal is approved by the government. Toll will be collected by the selected concessionaire, according to provisions of the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008.
"A proposal for monetisation of completed public-funded national highway projects through the toll-operate-transfer mode based on expected collection of user fee receivables through the private sector is under active consideration in the ministry," an official source said. He added the move could increase efficiency of toll collection and help the government secure future cash flows for use in building new highways.
"The only bottleneck is that if a particular stretch is to be upgraded, say, after 15 years, it is not clear whether the NHAI will do it or the private operator. The modalities are being worked out," another source said.
The move will open opportunities for toll operators and encourage pension and wealth funds to invest in India. Experts added the model had been designed for the private sector to invest in low-risk assets.