Amid the nationwide lockdown on account of coronavirus outbreak, the toll collection on national highways will see a dip of about 3 per cent in the current fiscal, rating agency ICRA said on Thursday.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Wednesday announced suspending toll collection pan-India to ease movement of emergency services and goods.
The constrained vehicular movement in the run up to the lockdown due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) followed by suspension of tolling will further push toll collections into negative territory for 2019-20, ICRA said in a statement.
"Overall, the annual toll collections for FY2020 are expected to witness a decline by around 2-3 per cent. For the month of March 2020, the decline in toll collections is estimated to be more than 40 per cent," the statement added.
With the constrained vehicular movement likely to persist beyond April 2020, given the current situation, ICRA expects Q1 FY2021 toll collections also to get adversely affected, it said.
"However, some succour is there for toll operators, as according to MORTH (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways) circular dated March 25, 2020, the 21-day toll suspension would be treated as force majeure event," it said.
Elaborating on the issue, Rajeshwar Burla, Vice President, Corporate Ratings, ICRA said, "Under force majeure (political) event, 100 per cent of O&M (operation and maintenance) and interest costs are reimbursed for the affected period. This would cover around 50-55 per cent of loss of revenue incurred by these projects."
However, the quantum and timelines for release of compensation is uncertain as on date, he added.
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