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Government planning India’s longest 600 km expressway to connect Delhi and Katra

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Presently, it takes about 11-12 hours to reach Katra from Delhi. The Expressway proposed by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways is expected to bring down the commutation time by 5-6 hours. The Expressway will increase the connectivity between New Delhi and Jammu and it will be aided by the National Highway being built between Srinagar and Jammu currently. Katra, which is at an elevation of 875 metres above the sea level, is 42 kms further than Jammu.

  • The announcement was made by the PM, consecutively after announcing a highway project for providing connectivity for the four religious shrines (Char Dham) in Uttarakhand.
  • The New Delhi-Katra expressway will be a relief for pilgrims visiting the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi in J&K.
  • The proposed expressway will cover 600 kms and will be India’s longest. It will pass through Haryana, Punjab and J&K, costing more than INR 15,000 crores. The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways is conducting feasibility studies for the project, with the help of consultants.
  • The Hybrid Annuity Model of PPP (Public Private Partnership) is expected to be employed for this project, with the Government bearing 40% of the project cost.
  • This project is a part of the government’s plan to construct about 1,000 kms of expressways at an estimated cost of INR 16,680 crores, as the traffic flow on these routes is favourable. The approved corridors are Delhi-Chandigarh, Bengaluru-Chennai, Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Meerut, Kolkata-Dhanbad, Delhi-Agra and Vadodara-Mumbai.

Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM)

During the Hon. Finance Minister’s Budget speech this year, he had talked about the need for revisiting the existing PPP models. He emphasised on the need to rebalance the risks, with the government bearing a larger chunk of the risks, as the private sector’s interest in new road projects was declining, with very few takers (especially for the BOT-toll mode) during the 2012-13 bidding round of NHAI. The HAM model is a mix of the BOT-annuity and EPC models, where the government to private funding will be in the ratio of 40: 60.

Under HAM, NHAI will transfer the funds in five equal instalments during the construction period, thus reducing the financial burden on the private players during the project implementation phase. It’s a win-win situation for both the government and the private partners, as it reduces the pressure on NHAI for providing cash on an up-front and urgent basis on one hand and also lifts the burden of collecting tolls, off the shoulders of the private sector, on the other. The ‘Annuity’ nature of the projects would eliminate traffic related risks thereby making it simpler for private players to exit a project and also making refinancing easier.