NEW DELHI: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) can “exclusively” utilize the funds raised through InvIT to pare its mounting debt that has crossed Rs 3.4 lakh crore.
In a response to an RTI-query on the current debt burden of NHAI and how the authority intends to pay it, NHAI said, “The government has permitted NHAI to utilize the fund raised through NHAI InvIT exclusively for debt servicing.”
The authority further said that NHAI has been provided funds by the central government for expenditure and debt servicing.
The total debt of NHAI, as on September 30, 2023 is over Rs 3.4 lakh crore.
NHAI’s debt burden came under scanner and the Union government’s think tank NITI Aayog ordered an evaluation of the authority’s work.
In the Union Budget 2023-24 NHAI has been allocated Rs 1,62,207 crore, 15% more than the revised estimates for 2022-23. As of March 2022, NHAI’s total outstanding debt was Rs 3,48,522 crore.
InvITs or Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) are instruments under the road monetization plan of NHAI, under which road assets are placed and the investors can put in money and the income generated from these assets is paid as dividend.
In December 2019, the Union Cabinet had given its approval to the NHAI to set up and InvIT and monetize national highway projects.
The move was aimed at enabling NHAI to monetize completed national highways that have a toll collection track record of at least one year and it reserves the to levy toll on the identified highway.
Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan were the anchor investors for the first NHAI InvIT after they picked up 25% equity each.