The Union government is planning to create two new entities under the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) – likely in the form of special purpose vehicles that will remain attached to the parent organisation – to focus on international projects and expressways.
“We are thinking of setting up two subsidiaries of the NHAI — Express Highways and NHAI International. These could be on the lines of the NHIDCL (National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd). NHAI International would execute projects in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Iran and even some African nations,” Nitin Gadkari, union road transport and highways minister, told Business Standard.
The NHIDCL is a fully owned company of the ministry of road Transport and highways.
Gadkari’s statement means there would be no separate authority for expressways as was being planned earlier, as fundraising could be done only on the strength of the NHAI. “Within NHAI, we can have various special purpose vehicles,” he said.
The minister said many countries, including Sri Lanka and Nepal, had approached the government for construction of highways.
A senior government official said the NHAI board had already approved the formation of NHAI International.
In the case of expressways, the proposal is yet to be approved. Such projects are at present handled by the NHAI or by state government-run highway construction entities. Roads that are more than four lanes and handle traffic over 20,000 passenger car units (PCUs) a day are termed as expressways. These roads are also access controlled.
Gadkari was a minister in the Maharashtra government when the country’s first expressway linking Mumbai and Pune was built.
According to the NHAI website, currently, only 200 km of roads comprise expressway in the country out of 96,261 km of national highways and total road network of 33 lakh km. Many state highways that have been turned into expressways, however, are not included in the 200 km. Such state government-executed expressways include the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which is 302-km- long.
Through the creation of a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) for expressways a more focussed attention can be given to their construction, said the official.