Austrian OeEB lends to Vishvaraj Environment Group For National Mission for Clean Ganga project

Mumbai, India: Vishvaraj Environment Pvt. Ltd. (VEPL), India’s leading ESG-focussed water utility firm today announced that it has achieved the Financial Closure for its Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) project at Maheshtala under the Namami Gange program administered by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).

VEPL, through its subsidiary Maheshtala Waste Water Management Pvt. Ltd. (MWWMPL), had earlier signed a Rs 273 Crore HAM concession agreement under the NamamiGange program administered by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) with Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA ) as the principal executing agency, which included the scope of designing, financing, constructing the sewage treatment plants, pumping stations and other associated infrastructure at Maheshtala. The project involves a construction period of 2 years and 15 years of O&M, backed by an annuity from NMCG.

This will contribute to India’s movement towards achieving Sustainable Development goals, with a strong positive impact on the SDG-6 (Water) and SDG -14 (life underwater)parameters. The treated water will be released back into the Ganga, where millions of people are dependent for their livelihood on the river in the downstream region.

The project cost is to be funded by a mix of NMCG Grant, Equity, and Debt, with the entire project debt of over Euro 13 million to be funded by OesterreichischeEntwicklungsbank AG, the Development Bank of Austria (“OeEB”). This transaction marks the first direct lending by a European DFI in NMCG’s HAM projects. Deloitte India was the financial advisor for this transaction.

The signing event was conducted at the NMCG office on May 25, 2022, in the presence of the Honourable Ambassador of the Republic of Austria to India, Her Excellency Katharina Wieser, and Mr. Hans-Jörg Hörtnagl, Austrian Trade Commissioner to India.

Speaking at the event, the Austrian Ambassador welcomed the participation of the Austrian development bank in India’s clean Ganga mission project which has a highly positive social impact on millions of people, and wished for greater participation from Austria in future NMCG projects. She wished the best of luck to the Vishvaraj group for the implementation of this project and wished for continued Austrian involvement in its future projects. The Austrian trade commissioner mentioned the high level of technical expertise available with Austrian companies in the field of environment protection and wished for greater future participation from Austria in NMCG projects.

Commenting on this signing event, Shri G. Asok Kumar, Director General, NMCG said, “Market for the municipal wastewater management on hybrid annuity-based PPP mode (HAM) is maturing with increasing bidders participation with every project and is happy to note Development Bank of Austria funding MWWMPL for this project indicating increasing credibility of HAM model. He also expressed hope that MWWMPL shall be able to complete the project well before the schedule and more international funding support comes into the Municipal Waste Water Sector on HAM Model.”

Smt. Antara Acharya, CEO of KMDA congratulated the NMCG and VEPL group for achieving financial closure. This project has a highly positive social impact on the people of the state of Bengal and would benefit millions of people in the downstream areas.

Commenting on the signing event, Sabine Gaber, Member of OeEB’s Executive Board said “Clean water is important for human health, for the environment, climate, and biodiversity as well as for agricultural productivity and thus food security. We are therefore happy to support this important project that contributes to the Indian Government’s Clean Ganga program.”

Commenting on this milestone achievement, Mr. Arun Lakhani, CMD, VEPL said, “VEPL is proud to contribute to our Prime Minister’s flagship Clean Ganga project. This is a landmark achievement that also marks the first direct lending by a European DFI in an NMCG HAM project. We thank KMDA and NMCG for the confidence reposed in us. We are confident that this milestone achievement will pave the way for further DFI participation in the water ESG project space”

Speaking on the occasion, Siddhartha Lakhanee, ED, VEPL said, “We thank OeEB, NMCG, and KMDA for their support. At VEPL, we are committed to sustainability and SDG goals of the Government of India, and we look forward to many more projects in PPP/HAM under NMCG as well as Amrit 2.0.”

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