In order to complete the award of 3,500km road projects on the basis of the EPC model in the current fiscal, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is currently contemplating to increase its borrowing levels to about Rs. 30,000-35,000cr. It may be recalled that the nodal agency has targeted to award 5,000 km in the current fiscal, of which 3,500km will be in EPC mode and 1,500 through public-private partnership (PPP) route. With the PPP projects seeing a muted response, NHAI will have little option but to adopt EPC route where entire projects are funded by the Government.
According to official sources, NHAI will borrow on the back of fuel cess and toll revenue that it gets, which together are expected to touch Rs. 20,000cr. In case the trend of having to award more EPC projects continues in the following years, then NHAI may end up borrowing Rs.60,000cr and Rs.80,000cr in the subsequent years. To date, the maximum that NHAI has borrowed in a year is Rs. 17,378cr in 2011-12 and the borrowing levels in the subsequent years fell to below Rs.10,000cr per annum. The agency has awarded 1,011 km of projects since April of which 500 km were on PPP basis, all of which required payment of grant by the Authority. They are Kaithal-Rajasthan border (165 km, 17% grant), Rs. 1,393cr project cost); Bikaner-Falodi (159 km, Rajasthan, Rs. 822cr project with 39.74% grant element). The third project was Aurangabad-Yedeshi (190 km stretch) and involved Rs. 558cr. Subsequently, six projects — Kazhakottam-Mukala, Delhi-Meerut Expressway, Yadagiri-Warangal, Varanasi-Sultanpur, Ambala-Kaithala, Ghaghra Bridge-Varanasi — with a total cost of Rs.9,400cr, for which NHAI had invited bids did not find a response.