Odisha: Panikoili-Rimuli NH stretch to be monetised by NHAI

Built at a cost of over Rs 1,800 crore, the 167 km stretch of Panikoili-Rimuli section of NH-20 is a part of the assets monetisation plan.
Representative image
Representative image

BHUBANESWAR : The newly-built Panikoili-Rimuli stretch of NH-20 (erstwhile NH-215) is among the 33 national highways in the country that have been selected for monetisation in 2024-25 financial year.

Buoyed by the amount of funds National Highways Infra Trust (NHIT) raised during the last fiscal, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to monetise highway stretches spanning over 2,740 km during the current fiscal. NHIT is the infrastructure investment trust of NHAI and had raised Rs 40,314 crore through various modes of asset monetisation in 2023-24. Built at a cost of over Rs 1,800 crore, the 167 km stretch of Panikoili-Rimuli section of NH-20 is a part of the assets monetisation plan which will be taken up either through toll operate transfer (TOT) or infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) mode, said NHAI sources.

The four-lane expansion of the highway was delayed by over a decade due to protests by locals and issues in land acquisition. The project could not move an inch following a clash between local police and villagers, who had been protesting a bridge over Kusei river at Belabahali in Keonjhar district in 2016 over its location and design.

NHAI had to appoint an expert team of technical personnel from IIT Kharagpur and former Works department secretary GC Mitra to re-examine the location of the proposed bridge and its design, which was later revalidated. At present, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) now monetises its assets under three modes - TOT, InvIT and project-based financing to provide all categories of investors an opportunity to invest in assets pertaining to highways and associated infrastructure. It is, however, unclear which highway will be included in TOT bundles and which will be transferred to InvIT.

So far, NHAI has already released 14 bundles of national highways in TOT mode. “Although the mode of monetisation for Panikoili-Rimuli section has not yet been decided, the agency may opt for TOT given the economic importance of the highway that passes through the mineral belt of the region,” said an NHAI official.

TOT grants highway entities the privilege to collect toll for a specified duration after paying an upfront cash amount to the authority. Binjabahal to Telebani section of NH-6 in the state has been included in the TOT bundle 14 and awarded to Cube Highways and Infrastructure Pvt Ltd for Rs 7,701 crore.

Most of the long stretches of highways in the state have been built on build-operate-transfer (BOT) mode under which the government grants private enterprises with a franchise right for a certain period of time allowing them to finance the construction and operation of public infrastructure, and recover investment by charging users. The infrastructure is handed over to the government free of charge after the contract expires.

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