The private sector appears to have picked the tab to plug India’s huge highway deficit, even as the government pins its hopes on the multiplier effect of large infrastructure projects to cascade through the broader economy.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will spend over Rs 30,000 crore in 2009 to develop highways and roads under some 220 projects currently underway, in the ongoing National Highway Development Programme.
Highway projects worth Rs 1,12,200 crore are being executed through public-private partnerships. Most of these are real-toll contracts with private road developers, also known as build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects.
The authority will spend about Rs 5,000 crore in the quarter ending March 31 ’09, to reach a total of Rs 21,000 crore in the full fiscal year, road transport & highways minister Brahma Dutt said.
The original target was to spend Rs 30,000 crore during the current fiscal year, but the spending was curtailed because of global financial meltdown, which has limited the ability of project developers to raise funds and execute projects on time.
Under the BOT model, the administration awards the ownership and operation rights to the developer for a specified period of time, after which the ownership is transferred to the government.
The national highways have a total length of 66,590 km of which about 35,000 km has been taken up for modernisation and upgradation under five different stages of the NHDP programme.