As per the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) of central ministries and public sector entities released by the government on August 23, 2021, the government expects to realise Rs 351 billion from the partial sale of BharatNet fibre assets as well as state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited’s (MTNL) tower assets.
The pipeline has been developed by NITI Aayog, in consultation with infrastructure line ministries, based on the mandate for ‘asset monetisation’ under Union Budget 2021-22. In sum, the NMP estimates aggregate monetisation potential of Rs 6 trillion through core assets of the central government, over a four-year period, from FY 2022 to FY 2025. The NMP is meant to serve as an essential roadmap for the asset monetisation of various brownfield infrastructure assets across roads, railways, shipping, aviation, power, telecom, oil and gas, and warehousing sectors.
For the telecom sector, the NITI Aayog has valued over 286,000 kilometre of optical fibre assets laid by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) and BSNL under the BharatNet project at Rs 263 billion, as per the NMP document. Further, BSNL’s 13,567 mobile tower assets and MTNL’s 1,350 towers have been valued at Rs 88 billion. Both the PSUs jointly own 69,047 mobile towers. Indicative monetisation value of Rs 263 billion has been considered over FY23 and FY24. It may be noted that the actual private investment towards these packages could be lower than the estimated capex and a portion of capex may be met out of grant, the NMP document said.
According to the document, the indicative monetisation value for BharatNet fibre assets is considered based on a capex approach. The total approved cost for BharatNet project is Rs 611.09 billion which includes Rs 420.68 billion for BharatNet (Phase-I and Phase-II) and a maximum of Rs 190.41 billion on viability gap funding (VGF) for implementation of the PPP model of BharatNet in 16 states, according to government.
The bidding process for BharatNet is expected to be initiated during FY22 and the actual outlay of capex will happen over two years from the date of award, the document said. According to the NMP, 525,706 kilometres of optical fibre has been laid under BharatNet project which aims to connect all villages in the country with a high-speed broadband network.