To part-finance the cost of constructing the 265-km Delhi-Jaipur expressway project, the road transport ministry is looking at a slew of options, including a two per cent surcharge on the sale of land for residential purposes along the expressway.
The funds collected by way of the surcharge, according to the proposal, will be routed to the Central government and used subsequently for the purpose of constructing the expressway.
“Our estimates show that this surcharge will give us around Rs 4,700 crore, which will fund a large part of our project cost. If you exclude the cost of land acquisition, the project is estimated to cost around Rs 7,000 crore,” said a senior road transport ministry official.
He further explained that any residential project along the expressway will need entry and exit points for its traffic and this surcharge will be a payment for providing that exit to those residential colonies.
The Delhi-Jaipur expressway is the first expressway project that the Central government hopes to work on. The other expressway projects in the pipeline are the Delhi-Meerut, Mumbai-Vadodra and Eastern Peripheral expressways.
This proposal, along with others, will be discussed by an Inter-ministerial Council headed by the road secretary and have members from the finance ministry, Planning Commission and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The other proposals include developing the expressway by funding the shortfall through a viability gap funding, allowing the company developing the project rights to collect tolls also on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway and Delhi-Jaipur highway after their concession period is over and government funding the construction of the project.
“Allowing the expressway company to collect toll on the other highway connecting Jaipur will also take care of the competing highway issue. Enabling the expressway concessionaire to collect toll on these highway should not be a problem, as we will put a clause in the bid document for Delhi-Jaipur expressway,” said the official. He added that the concession period for Delhi-Jaipur will end in 2023 and Delhi-Gurgaon is set to end by 2024.
According to current estimates, the Delhi-Jaipur expressway would not be able to break even in terms of total traffic that would use it. It is estimated that the expressway will cater to a traffic of 25,000 passenger cars daily but requires 42,000 passenger cars to break even.
The NHAI had raised a question on the viability of the project and said that it was neither feasible through toll nor through government funding. It had also said that private companies would not be interested in getting into a high-cost expressway project at this juncture.