BofA gives thumbs up for Indian highway sector

Bank of America Merrill Lynch
According to BofA Merrill Lynch (BofAML), 2018-19 is again going to be another robust year for the Indian highway sector as the construction of national highways has increased to record high and the momentum will continue, as funding is not an issue and the pace of land acquisition has improved dramatically, says a research report. Funding is not an issue in the near-term; and the pace/ process of land acquisition has improved as the large number of open tenders give comfort on the ordering outlook, BofAML said in a research note. Ordering/construction of national highways have increased to 17,055 km from 9,829km, respectively in FY18. Meanwhile, the government has fixed the national highways project award target at 20,000 km for the current fiscal, up 25% over the previous year. After reporting a significant jump in highway awards to 7,397 kms in FY18, NHAI is targeting 8,000-10,000 km of project awards in FY19 and the targets are achievable. The report further noted that the pace of land acquisition – one of the key bottlenecks for the sector historically – has improved to around 9,500 hectares in 2017-18 as against an average of about 7,700 hectares over the preceding five years. Besides, several NHAI officials highlighted higher compensation to land-owners, better coordination with state governments and higher autonomy to NHAI in the process as the key reasons for the uptick.

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