Delay in land acquisition, tight liquidity conditions ‘holding up’ road projects

Despite financial closures improving, land acquisition issues have delayed 60 per cent of road projects. The main reasons can be attributed to the delay in land acquisition and tight liquidity conditions. “Till date, out of the 24 projects due for completion, 15 projects have witnessed delays in execution,” noted Rajeshwar Burla, Vice-President, Corporate Ratings, ICRA.

The NHAI is in charge of acquiring land for highway projects. Delay in land acquisition widens the gap between the time a project is awarded and when construction starts. ICRA, in its study, pointed out that out of the 117 Hybrid Annuity road projects (awarded from January 2016 to March 2019), 107 projects are witnessing execution delays. This translates to 90 per cent of the projects.

Poor credit profile 

Among the delayed projects, 40 per cent are on account of reasons attributable to a delay in equity infusion due to tight liquidity or deteriorated credit profile of the project sponsor.

In 20 per cent of the cases, the delay could be attributed to NHAI (to obtain Right of Way) and 33 per cent for delay in obtaining clearances and equity infusion, Burla stated. Obtaining Right of Way is an essential requirement for an infrastructure project. The remaining 7 per cent was attributed to heavy rains and floods.

Another ratings agency Crisil had said that land acquisition costs have shot by almost three times in 2019, in addition to an increase in highway construction costs, which has also caused a roadblock in projects. As on December 2019, 4 per cent of the projects awarded in FY18 and 95 per cent of the projects awarded in FY19 are yet to receive the Appointed Date (AD), which refers to date from which the project comes into existence.


Industry watchers, however, are optimistic about the sector’s profits. “Investors have a long-term view, and as India build up its economic momentum, infrastructure will be needed,” said R Venkataraman, MD, Alvarez and Marsal India.

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