The Centre will get toll revenues worth Rs 1,000 to 1,500 crore every month once the much-awaited Delhi-Mumbai Expressway becomes operational in 2023, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Sunday and described state-owned NHAI as a "gold mine" for generating income.
Steering the ambitious drive to expand the country's road infrastructure for the past seven years, a confident Gadkari also asserted that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will rake in annual toll income to the tune of Rs 1.40 lakh crore in the next five years from the current level of Rs 40,000 crore.
Gadkari, who just completed a whirlwind tour to assess the progress of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway that will pass through four states apart from the national capital, said the national highways infrastructure is a world-class success story.
"Once the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is completed and opened for the public, we will get at least Rs 1,000-1,500 crore as toll revenues every month," he told PTI in an interview.
The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is likely to be completed by March 2023 and is being built as part of the first phase of the 'Bharatmala Pariyojana'.
The eight-lane expressway, covering Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, is expected to halve the commute time between the national capital and the country's financial hub from nearly 24 hours to 12 hours.
Against the backdrop of concerns being flagged about NHAI being saddled with a high level of debt, the Union Road Transport and Highways Minister pointed out that the nodal agency has received 'AAA' rating and all its road projects are productive.
'AAA' is one of the highest credit ratings and indicates a robust financial position.
"NHAI was not in a debt trap, and it will never be in a debt trap in the future. It is a gold mine, and is on strong footing... in the next five years, NHAI's toll income will rise to Rs 1.40 lakh crore per year from current toll income of Rs 40,000 crore," Gadkari noted.
(With inputs from PTI)