Transport ministry seeks Rs 78,000 crore to help fund Bharatmala

The road transport and highways ministry has sought a budgetary allocation of Rs 78,000 crore from the finance ministry for the next financial year.
Besides this, the National Highways Authority of India plans to raise Rs 60,000 crore through bonds in a year when the ministry is likely to set a target to award 25,000 km of new road contracts. The construction target for fiscal 2019 is likely to be 12,000 km, a top roads ministry official said.
Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari refused to divulge any numbers  but said he was seeking a higher allocation this time since the ministry was set to roll out the most extensive highways-building programmes yet under the Bharatmala scheme.
For the current financial year that will end in March, the ministry was initially allocated almost 65,000 crore. It is being reduced by almost Rs 5,000 crore under revised estimates, but the roads ministry has requested the finance ministry to restore the full amount.
The government is expecting to construct around 10,000 km, or a little over 27 km a day, of national highways this financial year. “We’re seeking more budgetary allocation this time. Also, we won’t be solely relying on it (budget allocation) as a lot of government-owned operational national highways will be monetised in the next financial year,” Gadkari said.
The ministry is expecting to get almost Rs 20,000-25,000 crore by leasing out the operations of 30-35 national highways in fiscal 2018-19.
Under the government’s toll-operate-transfer scheme, it will lease operational highways to private investors for a period of 30 years. The bidding process for the first batch of nine highways is ongoing and several international pension funds among others are in the fray for the contracts. In FY19, the ministry is expecting to spend upwards of Rs 1.6 lakh crore towards highway construction works. That will be the highest ever spending in the sector, the official said. As a part of the Bharatmala programme, 34,800 km of highways will be constructed by 2022 at an expected cost of about Rs 5.35 lakh crore. The government will fund the project through market borrowings, central road funds that mostly comprise the budgetary allocation and monetising government-owned road assets.
As per estimates, Rs 2.09 lakh is likely to come from market borrowing, Rs 1.06 lakh crore via private investment and Rs 2.19 lakh crore from road fund and toll operate transfer model.