To fund Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s ambitious Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway, the government is mulling over levying an additional surcharge on petrol and diesel consumption. The option was discussed at a recent meeting chaired by Fadnavis. The road project, which involves building a 701-km expressway, is estimated to cost Rs 46,000 crore. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the nodal agency for the project, has plans to raise about Rs 27,000 crore in loans, sources said.
In a meeting chaired by the chief minister on March 8, the proposals for mobilising revenue and repayment of the loan were discussed. The minutes of the meeting reveal that the option of levying surcharge on fuel consumption along the ten districts covered by the expressway for servicing the debt is under the government’s active consideration. “These are the various options before us, but we will choose the one that suits the project best. We will take the decision when we need the finances. It is currently too early to make a decision,” said Radheshyam Mopalwar, MD, MSRDC.
The cash-strapped agency also plans to raise subordinate debt from other government agencies. At the meeting, the plan to raise Rs 1,000 crore each from Mahara-shtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA), City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) over five years was discussed.
The minutes of the meeting also recorded that the interest payments on the loan raised will be to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore annually. The state government has plans to erect toll stations along the highway to raise revenue. Since the toll revenue may not suffice, there is also a plan to monetise MSRDC’s land parcels in Bandra, Nepean Sea Road and along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
Just like for other MSRDC projects, an Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is proposed, with the government agency holding 51 percent stake in it. “The creation of an SPV is only for financial purposes. It helps to maintain accounts if we have a separate SPV. We have created SPVs for at least 12 of our previous projects,” said Mopalwar.
The government is facing flak from the opposition and a section of farmers over the acquisition of fertile lands along the corridor. The option of levying an additional cess on petrol and diesel consumption could spark further protest.