According to ratings agency Icra’s report, there is going to be a loss of 600 crore in toll collections because of the ongoing protests by farmers in the national capital region (NCR), Haryana and Punjab. apart from the impact on toll there is also a debt of over Rs 9,300 crore taken by the stakeholders which is at “risk”.
The on going farmers protest in several north Indian states demand to repel the three new farm laws. Assuming that protests would subside by February, the agitations are likely to result in a steep decline of around 30-35% in toll collections in the affected states in 2020-21, it said. It is compared with a 5-7% decline for the rest of India, which is attributable to the pandemic, the report added.
The agency said, a total of 52 toll plazas, including both public-funded and BOT (built, operate and transfer), on national highways (NH) in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi-NCR have been directly or indirectly affected due to farmers protests. The revenue loss in the state highways projects in these regions will be an additional burden, it said.
While the impact on fee collection at some toll plazas began from October 2020 onwards, the same has intensified to no fee collection with the free movement of vehicles at all toll plazas in Haryana, Punjab and Delhi-NCR since December 12, 2020. “The average toll collection per day at these plazas is estimated at Rs 7 crore.
Vice-President (Corporate Sector Ratings) Rajeshwar Burla, said, “Until January 26, 2021, these national highway toll plazas would have incurred an estimated revenue loss of around Rs 560 crore, of which Rs 410 crore is estimated for BOT Concessionaires,” Out of the Rs 9,300-crore of impacted rated debt, Rs 8,550-crore of debt is at a high risk of default, while Rs 750 crore is rated as investment grade with low to moderate risk of default, he further added.
Some of these entities also have debt service reserves (DSRAs) of around three months in place to use for such exigencies; however, this would have been completely used up by now, he said. The inability to collect toll for a continuous period of 24 hours and exceeding an aggregate period of seven days in an accounting year due to agitations/ strikes would be considered an indirect political event under the force majeure clause, the agency said.
In such cases, with the costs attributable to such events, beyond the insurance cover, one half of such excess amount is likely to be reimbursed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), covering around 25% of the loss of revenue incurred by the affected projects, it said, estimating it to be at Rs 100 crore.