Concerns over rising debt unfounded, NHAI well on way to achieve targets: Chairman


NEW DELHI: The national highways authority of India (NHAI) is doing due diligence of projects to make sure they are financially viable, and concerns around the rising debt burden of the authority are unfounded, chairman NN Sinha said.

“There has been reports in some section of media and that is affecting sentiments. Yesterday I met some concessionaires and I was told that bankers are refusing to make payments against performance bank guarantees, because they are not sure whether NHAI will make payments or not,” Sinha said while addressing CII Infranet here on Wednesday.

In a recent letter, the PMO had flagged the excessive expansion of roads, pointing that road infrastructure had become ‘unviable’.


“There are concerns whether the authority will be able to take up projects on modes other than Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT). There have been suggestions. I should allay your concerns that NHAI does appraise the projects based on priority, projects which fit across the viability spectrum,” Sinha said.

Sinha added that not all projects will fit into the BOT toll approach. “If you want to take up toll approach, the project return should be around 12-13%,” he said.

Sinha said that NHAI would borrow less from the market if government spending was increased. “Which department doesn’t want more budgetary funding? I want to assure that we are well on way to achieving out road construction targets,” Sinha said.

NHAI plans to construct around 4,500 km of national highways in FY 20 as against 3,300 km built last financial year.

Sinha said that the contingent liabilities of the autority have been miscalculated by market watchers.

“The total amount of claim on the NHAI on account of arbitration is about Rs 70,000 crores. And the payout ratio is around 25%. The numbers (market estimates) are clearly way off,” Sinha said.

NHAI has approval to raise around Rs 75,000 crore in the current financial year, with budgetary support of around Rs 37,000 crore.

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