The National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI’s) debt has gone up 14 times since 2014-15 to stand at Rs 3,38,570 crore, as on November 31, 2021, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
Replying to a written question in Rajya Sabha, minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari said that since NHAI is an autonomous body, its debt is not accounted as part of the Union government’s debt, but in the books of NHAI.
In a reply to the Lok Sabha on March 12 last year, Gadkari had said at the end of 2014-15, NHAI had a total outstanding debt of Rs 24,188 crore.
NHAI’s cumulative debt kept on piling to stand at Rs 44,567 crore at the end of 2015-16 and rose to Rs 77,742 crore in 2016-17, Rs 1,21,931 crore in 2017-18, Rs 1,78,867 crore in 2018-19. As on February 2020, NHAI had a total debt of Rs 2,28,252 crore, which rose further to Rs 3.17 lakh crore at the end of 2020-21.
To repay debt and develop new highways, NHAI has been monetising government-funded highway projects since 2018. It has set an ambitious target to monetise 21,700 km operational highway stretches in three years starting 2022-23, a plan that could help it raise around Rs 2 lakh crore.
Monetisation of the existing assets will be carried out through three routes: toll operate transfer, toll securitisation and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs).