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NEW DELHI : The government is set to accelerate the pace of asset monetisation operations in the road sector by getting the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to find new buyers and operators for 21,700 km of operational highway stretches valued at over 2 lakh crore over the next three year starting next financial year.

The plan is to get facilitate the monetisation of NHAI assets so the funds released could be used by the highways builder for fresh construction and help in infrastructure augmentation at an accelerated pace.

In Parliament, minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari has informed that 5,500 km of highways are up for monetisation next fiscal, 7,300 km in 2023-24 and 8,900 km in 2024-25. Together these should help to release 2 lakh crore to NHAI that could use it to build new highways and cut its debt, which was 3.17 lakh crore at the end of 2020-21.

NHAI has been monetising government-funded highway projects since 2018. But the pace has been slow so far. The plan now is to use all the available modes for monetisation including, the toll operate transfer (ToT) model, InvIT (infrastructure investment trust) model and toll securitisation model.

For the current fiscal, NHAI has identified 86 stretches with an aggregate length of around 4,912 km for monetisation. Also, in November NHAI launched its maiden InvIT, another mode of asset monetisation, to mop up 5,100 crore by monetising 390 km highway stretches. It also used toll securitisation for raising 9,731 crore to part-fund the Delhi-Mumbai greenfield expressway project in March this year.

NHAI will be the flag-bearer of the government's asset monetisation programme with a plan to raise about 30-40,000 crore through monetisation of its operational stretches over the next two years. The national monetisation pipeline of the government intends to raise 6 lakh crore from different sectors over the next four years. The pipeline announced by the government has identified the road sector as having the maximum potential for such exercise at 1,60,000 crore.

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