September 26, 2014
Currently, the toll rates are typically brought down to 40% of the ongoing toll rate after the end of a concession period. Photo: Mint New Delhi: Roads minister Nitin Gadkari’s promise of limiting toll collection to recover project cost is facing resistance on grounds that it will add to the fiscal burden of the government. Officials in the road ministry and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have pitched to make a presentation to the minister to explain why the proposal is not feasible. “We have asked the minister to let us explain why stopping toll collection after recovering the project cost may not be desirable,” said an official who did not want to be identified. “Money collected through toll after the end of the concession period is used to maintain national highway projects.
Usually these are good stretches and cost of maintenance is high and there aren’t enough funds with the government to ensure maintenance of these stretches without the toll money,” he added. Currently, the toll rates are typically brought down to 40% of the ongoing toll rate after the end of a concession period. Concession period is the duration for which a developer is given the contract for tolling a road project for recovering the cost of construction and maintaining it, and typically ranges between 20 and 30 years. “The tolling policy is very vague. It needs to be revisited for many reasons like defining what constitutes the cost of construction and why some stretches are tolled and some not,” said a second official, who too requested anonymity.
“However, the toll that is collected after the concession period is used for maintaining and cross-subsiding other national highway stretches that cannot be tolled. If this is removed where will the money for maintaining the national highway network come from?” Gadkari first spoke of stopping the collection of toll once the cost of a project is recovered in the Lok Sabha on 14 August. Addressing a conference on 100 days of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on 15 September, Gadkari reiterated his keenness to go ahead with the proposal. The remarks come in the backdrop of several instances of protests against toll collection.
Road ministry officials are exploring alternative, acceptable solutions for resource mobilization that could at least address the resentment of the local residents. “One of the suggestions is to toll only the commercial traffic after the cost of the project is recovered as anyway 80% of the toll collection comes from the commercial traffic. However, all this is at an initial stage,” the first official said. The National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules formulated in 2008 are in force currently.
“The tolling strategy needs to be relooked at, keeping in mind the issue of the local users. More importantly the issue of collecting toll until perpetuity for stretches without providing an alternative free route to users who may not wish to pay also needs to be addressed,” said Pranavant, senior director at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd, an audit and consulting firm. He uses a single name. The move, when first suggested, had been criticized by the industry too on grounds that it could make it difficult for the developers to access bank finance.
March 27, 2014
Dipak Kumar Dash TNN
New Delhi: Now road users can check whether a toll plaza is operating legally and how much they should pay at each toll plaza. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has launched a portal a mobile-based application that will help commuters locate all toll plazas on a stretch and charges payable for each category of vehicle – car, jeep, truck or bus.
Suppose one plans to travel between Delhi and Mumbai, he just needs to enter names of the origin and destination to get details of all toll plazas.
A government official said the website – www.nhaitis.org – is already functional and information related to 255 toll plazas has been uploaded in the system. Details of other 30 plazas will be uploaded in the next two weeks, sources said.
“Commuters can also access updated information about concessions available for local and frequent users on any toll plaza so that the toll operators can’t fleece them. They can get details of the facilities available near a toll plaza, contact numbers for emergency services, local police station and nearest hospital,” said an official.
To make the information accessible while on the move, the highway authority said that people can also get all these details simply by sending an SMS. All that they need is to download an application (app) on their android smartphones. The app will provide details of all toll plazas within 100 km range.
Overcharging, misbehaviour by toll operators and long wait at toll plazas are some of the major irritants for road-users. Moreover, though it’s mandatory that a big hoarding at every plaza must display the applicable toll charges for each type of vehicle, private developers often fail to put them up. The new IT initiative is likely to address these concerns.
March 3, 2014
Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi
Civic body to reimburse NHAI, IDFC for arrangements; will pay rent for land, toll booths, office
Commercial vehicles entering Delhi on the Jaipur-Delhi expressway will now have to keep towards the left in order to pay toll tax at the toll plaza at Sirhaul. Six out of 16 lanes has been dedicated for the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to collect toll tax.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday accepted a compromise agreement between the corporation and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), under which six lanes on the extreme left of the Delhi-bound carriageway will be kept for toll collection.
The compromise was reached after the High Court ordered the NHAI and South municipal corporation to resolve the matter through discussions, while ordering that the toll plaza at the Sirhaul border be dismantled.
The South corporation had opposed dismantling of the toll plaza, claiming that it would make it impossible for the civic body to collect entry tax from commercial vehicles.
The decision to remove the toll plaza had been taken after long negotiations between the NHAI, IDFC and the erstwhile concessionaire of the expressway, DGSCL.
The court on February 19 had accepted the agreement between the company, IDFC and NHAI, transferring control of the load to an IDFC-led consortium.
The NHAI had then stated that the structure be dismantled to ensure smooth flow of traffic and four lanes be given to the South corporation for toll collection.
The NHAI had also said that it was not responsible for providing the infrastructure for the corporation to collect toll.
As the corporation opposed the move, the court directed the agencies to hold a meeting to discuss the issue and come up with a compromise.
The NHAI and IDFC have agreed that the toll collection booths and islands of the toll plaza will remain as is, while “improvements” would be be taken up to alert the traffic by providing bollards at the nosing of the island. The IDFC has also agreed to install a “traffic calming device” before the approach to the traffic islands.
The South corporation has agreed to reimburse the NHAI and IDFC for the arrangements and will also pay a rent for use of National Highway land, toll booths and office space.
The court of Justice Manmohan Singh in its order on Wednesday accepted the terms of the agreement and asked the Haryana Police to “give the assistance and to do the needful” to implement the agreement.
March 3, 2014
By The New Indian Express
The entire road toll collection machinery is in need of urgent revamp nationally to improve user experience, cut down on delays and nip in the bud its needless politicisation, even occasional vandalism causing destruction of public property. The whole process has to be expedited and streamlined with comprehensive electronic tolling, complete with conducive driving conditions, including strict enforcement of safety measures, routine highway maintenance and regular patrolling.
The public-private partnerships in highway projects must be policy induced to improve not just road conditions, but also safety given that India now has the dubious distinction of leading in road accidents and fatalities. We need modest, reasonable toll charges for all, irrespective of political and official status to discourage those who like to throw their weight around. Strict and prompt punishment should be meted out to those who do so.
Electronic tolling of vehicles should be spread nationwide in a time-bound manner. Machine-readable, chip-embedded cards need to be made available, and they must be easy to purchase, valid pan-India and capable of remote recharge. If such measures are taken, travelling by road will become a pleasure instead of being an undertaking fraught with danger because of bad roads, reckless driving and the presence of hoodlums who wait for an opportunity to pounce on a traveller who may have lost his way or because his vehicle is giving trouble. As a result, middle class families travelling with women and children generally prefer trains and even planes. In addition to the modernisation of toll booths, more food courts and motels, set in the midst of greenery, are the need of the hour for both domestic and foreign tourists. Given the beauty of the Indian landscape, travellers are bound to hit the roads again if such steps are taken.
March 1, 2014
TNN[ Dipak Kumar Dash ]
NEW DELHI: Truckers carrying goods beyond the permitted load will end up paying 10 times higher toll charges, as per the new norms notified by the government as part of amendment in toll rules for national highways in the country.The notification issued after the Cabinet nod also says vehicles must not be allowed to cross toll plazas unless the driver or owner offloads the extra weight at his own risk and cost. Earlier, rules allowed an overloaded vehicle to pass toll plazas by paying the toll charge specified for the next higher category vehicle.This meant in case a three-axle vehicle was found overloaded, it could pass the toll plaza after paying the charge for a four-axle vehicle. “This penalty was too little. Though the rule also included offloading of extra load, there was hardly any impact. Now, private road developers will have an interest checking overloading as they will get substantial extra revenue,” said an official.
Overloading is one of the major causes of road accidents and fatalities. In 2012, overloading and overcrowding caused almost one lakh accidents and claimed 30,500 lives on Indian roads.
Moreover, a Central Road Research Institute study had shown that with 10% overloading above the permissible limit, the life of roads got reduced by 35% and with 30% overloading, it got reduced by about 65%.
International experts have been pushing for reforms in rules and regulations to make travel safer on Indian roads. Pushing for such reforms, India head of World Health Organization Nata Menabde said last week, “If India can save its children from polio, we are sure that we can save those children than dying on roads later.”
She had said that across the world, road accident was the biggest killer of young population in the age group of 15-29 years.
November 29, 2013
After preliminary arguments, the court issued notice to the authorities concerned and kept further hearing three weeks later, advocate Pandit said.
November 19, 2013
Harish Joshi, TNN |
On Monday, large number of people gathered at Zadeshwar toll tax plaza demanding abolishing the tax with immediate affect. They said that the tax collection is badly affecting the traffic movement.
Bharuch MLA Dushyant Patel, who is lead the agitation, asked the toll tax contractor to stop collecting tax till new bridge is constructed on Narmada. Daily commuters and people gathered to protest peacefully. The computer and other accessories from toll counters were removed by the contractor and informed National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) officials about demand of people.
Several NGOs under the banner of Bharuch Citizen Council also joined movement.
“Large number travelers get stranded on the highway for for hours in massive traffic jam due to toll tax plaza near Zadeshwar. The tax collection period was over in December 2012 and only one track is operational as old Sardar Bridge declared as non operational. Despite there being no need of tax collection, the time limit was extended till March 2014. The toll plaza itself is big obstacle in traffic movement hence it is in the interest of people to remove the same and stop tolll collection,” he said. N K Patel of Bharuch Citizens Council said, “NHAI officials and politicians are not sensitive enough about this burning issue. They don’t care for the people suffering in traffic and this has led to a movement to remove toll tax.”
Irrespective of political parties, we are going to ask for a time-bound program of construction of damaged bridges near Golden Bridge and Sardar bridge.”
November 19, 2013
Mihir Mishra :
Road commuters in the country will soon have the option of making their toll payments through mobile phones or tablets and can avail this service by downloading the application which is set to be available on Android, iOS and BlackBerry platforms.”We have asked the company that is providing the application to test it at our toll plazas and they are to start the pilot on the 114-km-long Tumkur-Chitradurga section of NH-4,” said a senior road transport ministry official.
The application called ‘m-toll’ has been developed by ConnectXcite Mobi India Ltd and will be available for download from December-end.
“The pilot will begin from December-end and the app will also come at the same time. The pilot will be done in two phases. We will start the test with our vehicles initially and move to vehicles using the toll plaza regularly in the second phase,” said Pankaj Chaturvedi, Country head for ConnectXcite in India.
Road users will need to download the application on their mobile phones or tablets and fill in their details. The server, which will be installed at the toll plazas, will detect their mobile phones and the money will be automatically deducted.
“Road users can make the payment through their pre-paid phone balance, post-paid phone account, credit cards, net banking and even cash-based scratch cards that every concessionaire will be authorised to sell,” said Chaturvedi.
Every payment made through other modes, apart from the scratch card sold by the toll plaza operator, will reach the toll plaza operators account in 24 hours from the time payment is made.
“In case three people, with m-toll on their mobiles, are travelling together in a car, all will get an indication to opt for payment. The money will be deducted from the account of the mobile that opts for it. In case no one opts for payment, money will be deducted from the oldest registered mobile phone,” Chaturvedi further explained.
He added that the registered mobile owner will be verified personally in case the handset being used to make payment switches off due some issues.
To ensure smooth passage for commuters at toll plazas, the road transport ministry is also doing a pilot on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.
A committee under Nandan Nilekani has suggested introduction of RFID cards for smooth passage on toll plazas at national highways.
Unlike the mobile system, RFID requires a chip-embedded sticker to be put on the vehicles and money gets deducted at the toll plazas automatically, through which the vehicles pass. Unlike the mobile system, money collected from it is to be pooled electronically at one place and distributed later among all toll plaza operators.
October 9, 2013
NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Tuesday decided to allow developers to charge only 75% toll during work on six-laning of highway stretches. In its bid to ensure that developers don’t delay construction, it also allowed tolling to be suspended for failure to meet the deadline.
A senior government official said this provision will put pressure on both private road developers and government agencies such as National Highways Authority of India ( NHAI) and state PWDs to provide encumbrance free land and get statutory clearances for project development. “The party responsible for default will have to pay/bear the damage. Why should we allow people to suffer traffic jams and also pay toll charges,” the official said.
This rule will bring relief to lakhs of commuters on over 2,000 km of national highways which are scheduled to be taken up for widening from four-lane to six-lane in the near future.
In another decision, the Cabinet decided to bring more highways under the toll network. Tolling will be allowed on all future two-and-a-half lane roads (10 metres wide). Officials said the proposal is aimed to generate funds to keep roads in good condition.
However, the decision on fixing toll charges for expressways could not be taken due to difference of opinion. Sources said while Planning Commission favoured toll of 1.5 times than normal highways, road ministry wanted it to be capped at 1.25 times. A committee of three ministers has been set up to address the issue. The committee will submit its report in a week.
September 20, 2013
Siddhartha Rai, Hindustan Times Gurgaon,
With Union minister for road transport and highways Oscar Fernandes himself working on a solution to ease traffic congestion on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, we think that something has finally been achieved after 50 editions of HT’s “Taking a Toll” campaign and it is time to take the endeavour to the next level.
As the minister visited the problem areas on the expressway and interacted with the people, the first-hand experience of people’s frustration and ire moved him to announce the proposal for an elevated bridge at Hero Honda Chowk.
“The flyover will cost nearly `100 crore and take 18 months to construct, but it will be a permanent solution that will go a long way in easing the traffic flow on this stretch of National Highway-8. We will also plead with the court for an early resolution to the expressway issue,” Fernandes had told HT after a meeting with Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, as the two met at Transport Bhawan, New Delhi, on Wednesday.
For the people
HT had turned its attention to the expressway after a public outcry over the project that had originally been conceived to catapult Gurgaon to the league of global business cities, but has eventually become a thorn in the side of residents.
HT took up cudgels on behalf of hapless people reeling under inordinate traffic holdups at the Sirhaul and Kherki Daula toll plazas and the lack of basic amenities that cost people their lives.
Through its activism, HT succeeded in lifting the morale of people who had lost all hope for anything to change with the expressway. The people’s movement in Gurgaon against the toll plazas and other issues was reactivated.
“In recent times, HT’s campaign against the expressway problems and the toll plazas is an example for other media houses to emulate. HT’s campaign has empowered us and the extensive coverage that included inside stories like the CAG’s censure of the project has not just informed us but also recharged us to carry on our struggle,” said Attar Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Toll Hatao Sangharsh Samiti, a citizens’ pressure group fighting for the removal of toll.
The issues that were taken up ranged from traffic jams that amounted to lost opportunities and salary cuts for commuters to technical matters like inherent design faults.
HT also traversed the psychological space of the daily victims of the expressway. How the expressway and the toll plazas are not just a physical, but also psychological barriers; how they have led to deteriorating mental health of the people; how efficiencies have dropped and how because of the toll plazas several industrial houses decided to shift from Gurgaon.
On its half-a-hundred-long journey, HT tried to leave no stone unturned, no door un-knocked; HT shook up all the trees to thrash out a panacea for a city dying under the pressure of its own traffic. From the chief minister of Haryana to the Union ministry of road transport and highways, from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to the negligent concessionaire DGSCL, HT barked at all the trees.
The problems were approached surgically for an acute and correct analysis; rather than pontification, people were involved to voice their concerns and responsibilities were fixed unfazed.
HT roped in experts from all walks of life to come up with an informed opinion rather than just conjecture and hollow reportage.
These people of intellect and experience not just showed the way to authentic information and analysis, but also came up with solutions and suggestions that shaped public opinion.
From otherwise-stolid local, state and national authorities, people started getting response. The joint commissioner of police (traffic) issued public notices to the agencies concerned; the NHAI sloughed off tardiness and took penal action against the concessionaire for having left the expressway to rot.
The agency even took matters in its own hands and ordered re-carpeting of service roads of the expressway, censuring DGSCL and charging the expenses on the company with a 15% surcharge.
A stretch of service road on the Delhi side was completed; the NHAI and the Haryana Urban Development Authority pooled in money for a foot-overbridge (FOB) at Hero Honda Chowk; the two agencies also finalised the construction of an FOB between Signature Tower and Iffco Chowk.
HT has now decided to expand its horizons. Yet again, on popular demand, HT wants to go hyper-local and look at the daily traffic mess that the internal traffic system of the city is in. This is an extension of our enterprise to make a difference to daily living in Gurgaon.
One of our experts Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education, New Delhi, rightly pointed out, “Local authorities of Gurgaon found it easy to go with the development that was triggered with the expressway despite knowing that the national highway was not meant for local traffic and did not develop the internal road and traffic system properly.”