October 8, 2014
NEW DELHI: Close on heels of Centre’s announcement to install advanced electronic toll collection system pan-India, the Highways Ministry has said the plazas will be solar-powered.
The Ministry has sought designs for such advanced solar plazas from architects, professionals and qualified engineers by October 31 announcing a prize of Rs 10 lakh for the best entry followed by Rs 7 lakh and Rs 5 lakh for entries qualifying for second and third places respectively, the official said.
NHAI-promoted Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) last month said it has inked a pact with Axis Bank for services related electronic toll collection, which the government plans to introduce pan-India.
Considering the complexities and geographical spread, the nationwide electronic toll collection (ETC) would be first of its kind in the whole world, the Ministry has said.
The electronic toll collection (ETC) system on Delhi – Mumbai stretch of the national highways is in the process of operationalisation and a nationwide rollout will be carried out by the end of year.
Earlier this year, IHMCL had signed agreement with ICICI Bank also and it has two banks now to perform clearing and settlement of electronic toll transaction, which is a key requirement for electronic toll collection.
This is subsequent to the initiative taken by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, NHAI and IHMCL for implementation of unified Electronic Toll Collection on Indian national highways.
Electronic Toll Collection enables road users to pay highway tolls electronically without stopping at the toll plazas.
“The unique number of the RFID FASTag affixed on the wind shield of the vehicle will be read by the readers fitted in the dedicated ‘ETC’ lanes of plazas and the toll will be deducted automatically,” a Ministry statement has said earlier.
Road users can enrol and get “FASTag” affixed on their vehicles at designated toll plaza locations or Point of Sale (POS) stations of Axis bank and ICICI bank.
Such type of highway tag brands are common in developed countries and are known by different names like “Eazee Pass”, “SunPass” in the US, “e-Pass” in Australia, “Salik” in Dubai etc.
September 29, 2014
Mysore Road – one of the few last surviving un-tolled roads leading out of the city – will also be tolled soon as it is being converted into a six-lane national highway. The project, estimated to cost Rs. 3,000 crore, is being taken up under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model.
Proposals to take up the development of Kanakapura Road and Doddaballapur Road, two other entry-exit routes of the city, under the BOT model, is pending and the day it materialises, Magadi Road will be the only road without toll booths.
All major entry-exit routes of the city, that include National Highway 7 (Bellary Road, which leads to the International Airport), National Highway 4 (Tumkur Road), Hosur Road, and Old Madras Road, are tolled. Add to this is the peripheral ring road built by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE), where commuters are tolled at seven locations.
The highest toll is being collected on the elevated expressway on Hosur Road, where a single one-way journey for a car costs Rs. 45 for a tollable road of 9.2 km, with a toll rate of Rs. 4.86 per kilometre, followed by Sadahalli gate on National Highway 7 with a toll rate of Rs. 3.4 per kilometre. The toll rates were recently revised amidst virulent protests. NICE Road is the only road that tolls two-wheelers as well.
This has meant that for those moving into the city’s outskirts a separate kitty needs to be reserved for paying tolls, which could even be thousands of rupees in a month, depending on the distance.
Urban experts argue that all entry and exit points of the city being access controlled will have a negative effect“The city with its large migrant population across the socio-economic spectrum of the society, would do better to not send out an elitist message,” said V. Ravichander, an urban expert.
Trade and commerce are adversely affected by the phenomenon, said S. Sampath Raman, president, Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said the cost of labour and of transporting materials has shot up considerably in the last few years.
Farmer leader Kodihalli Chandrashekar said that though they had been demanding that vehicles ferrying farm produce be excused from tolls, it had not materialised. Even farmers who gave up land for these roads were suffering. He said that this may lead to inflation in vegetable and fruit prices in the city.
September 26, 2014
A toll plaza being operated by the GMR Group was vandalised and its staff beaten up by an irate mob on National Highway 50 four-lane road near Hitnal in Koppal taluk on Thursday after a youth was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
According to information reaching here, the youth, Suresh, who was heading towards Koppal on his bicycle, was run over by a heavy vehicle. He died on the spot.
As the news spread, people from Hosahalli and Hitnal started gathering near the accident spot. They started blaming the GMR company, which had taken up the road construction work, for not providing service road and also not laying humps, resulting in the death of the youth. They blocked the highway and burnt tyre to register their protest.
There was a heated argument between the people and the staff of the toll plaza over sharing of the CCTV footage and the mob damaged the windowpanes and also assaulted the staff. A vehicle belonging to National Highways Authority of India was also damaged in the incident.
According to sources, people are agitated over the location of the toll plaza as they have to cough up the fee every time they use the road. They also urged the authorities to shift the toll plaza, but the response was lukewarm. This was another reason for the attack on the toll plaza, according to sources.
The police, on learning about the incident, rushed to the spot and prevented the situation from going out of control. Superintendent of Police T.D. Pawar also visited the spot.
September 22, 2014
Toll collection on the 95-km Mumbai-Pune Expressway will continue for 4 years, 3 months and 22 days beyond the original concession period, which ends in August 2019, with the state agency in charge having given a new contract to IRB Infrastructure for additional construction and toll collection.
IRB Infrastructure is the incumbent toll collection agency for the Mumbai-Pune expressway. The company had purchased toll collection rights with an upfront payment of Rs 918 crore in 2004 and has a 15-year concession period valid till August 8, 2019.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has now given a new contract to the company for additional works to expand capacity on the old Mumbai-Pune highway, and in return collect toll on the expressway on paying Rs 1,000 crore in installments to the corporation.
Six companies had bid for this contract. However, the MSRDC decided to pick IRB Infrastructure as the most preferred bidder as the company had quoted the lowest concession period of 8 years 8 months and 2 days, including the construction period. The concession period will commence on March 31, 2015.
“The construction works and payment of upfront premium installments to MSRDC have to be completed as prescribed in the bid till August 10, 2019. The toll collection for the project will commence from August 10, 2019, resulting into an effective tolling period of 4 years 3 months and 22 days,” IRB Infrastructure said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The company stated that the estimated project cost is approximately Rs 1,687 crore, including Rs 1,000 crore as upfront premium payable to MSRDC in four annual installments starting from March 31, 2015.
The capacity addition works on the old Mumbai-Pune highway consist of road widening from two to four lanes near Dehu Road, maintaining 12 km of service roads, constructing three three-lane flyovers, a rail over-bridge, and the widening of existing 8-lane toll booths to 12 lanes.
August 5, 2014
After protests against the nearly four-fold hike in toll rates at Sadahalli gate on National Highway 7 that leads to the international airport, commuters are now complaining of traffic snarls at the toll plaza during peak hours.
The Kempegowda International Airport records maximum traffic between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Adding to traffic chaos, the toll operators collect the fee at only 10 of the 14 gates at the plaza. The remaining lanes are being used by people living in the surrounding areas.
“It usually takes at least 15 minutes to pass the toll gate during the peak hour,” said Papanna, president of Bangalore International Airport Taxi Owners and Drivers Association. A senior Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation official said that buses were stuck at the toll plaza for nearly 20 minutes during peak hour.The BMTC tried but failed to get a separate lane for public, the official said.
Traffic expert M.N. Srihari said that an estimated 30,000 vehicles ply on the road during rush hour. The toll plaza was not equipped to handle the traffic, he said.
Surendra Kumar, project director, NHAI, Bangalore, told The Hindu that there were only two automated toll-collection lanes whose capacity is 1,200 vehicles per hour. However, the rest of the lanes are manual with a capacity to handle only 240 vehicles per hour.
July 15, 2014
Preparatory work has commenced for the six-laning of a 93-km stretch on the Chennai-Tiruchi highway (NH45) from Tambaram to Tindivanam.
According to sources in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the consultant has begun preparing the land plan schedule that identifies government and private lands. The consultant is also drawing up the estimate for shifting of utilities along the road that is used by over 90,000 vehicles a day.
The process including enumeration of trees along the road will take two years. “Since the concessionaire has a contract to build, operate and transfer the road for a period of 17.5 years, which is till November 2019, the NHAI will take a call as to when the work can be taken up,” explained an official. Work to widen the road into a four-lane facility began in May 2002 and was completed in October 2004 when tolling began.
A decision will also be taken regarding widening of the urban stretches upto Tambaram. “We have to take into consideration various factors including the Chennai Outer Ring Road that takes off from Vandalur, the railway track running on one side of the road and the densely populated urban stretch. Land acquisition will be a major issue in these areas,” he said.
R. Samban, who recently travelled by the NH45 to Tiruchi, said that the lighting could be improved on some stretches. “Some of the curves are quite sharp. During the widening, care must be taken to improve visibility at these points. The NHAI must also ensure that trees along the road are not cut but transplanted,” he said.
July 7, 2014
Santosh Sonawane, TNN |
NASHIK: Journey to Chandwad and up north on the on the Mumbai-Agra national highway is set to become costlier, with a revision in the toll fees at the Chandwad toll plaza coming into effect from July 1.
M/s Ircon Soma Tollway Pvt Ltd, in a concession agreement with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the development, operation and maintenance of the 118-km section of NH3 from Pimpalgaon to Dhule on a build-operate-and-transfer (BOT) basis, has raised the toll fee marginally.
The toll fee for cars, passenger vans or jeeps has been increased to Rs 120 from Rs 115, for light commercial vehicle (LCV) to Rs 215 from Rs 200, for trucks and buses to Rs 425 from Rs 400 and for multi-axle vehicles, to Rs 685 from Rs 645.
Defence vehicles, including those eligible for exemption in accordance with provisions of the Indian Toll Act, police vehicles, fire-fighting vehicles, ambulances, hearses, vehicles of the post and telegraph department, central and state government vehicles on duty and vehicles with VIP symbols have been exempted from the toll.
While the rise in the toll fee is marginal, it could still prove to be pocket pinch for motorists who travel frequently between Nashik and Chandwad or Malegaon, Dhule. Many commuters from Nashik are up in arms against the NHAI over the toll collected at Pimpalgaon and Chandwad.
Taking into account the stiff opposition over the revision in toll collection at the Pimpalgaon toll plaza, the district collector had convened a meeting with NHAI officials last month, wherein it was suggested that vehicles registered in Nashik and Malegaon (MH 15 and MH 41) be exempted from the revised toll, until a meeting with senior officials of NHAI was held.
A vehicle-owner from Nashik with a car registered with some other RTO than Nashik and Malegaon will have to pay Rs 140 to cross the Pimpalgaon toll plaza and again Rs 120 at the Chandwad toll plaza, if he proceeds from Nashik to Chandwad or Malegaon. Officials of the Chandwad toll plaza said that there was no facility of a return toll fee – replete with the general 50 per cent discount on the return journey over a scheduled period – at Chandwad, and hence, motorists will have to pay full toll on a return trip as well.
“We are waiting for the meeting of district collector Vilas Patil with senior officials of NHAI over the toll collection at Pimpalgaon toll plaza before taking a stand on the toll collection at Ghoti, Pimpalgaon and Chandwad toll plazas,” said Anju Singhal, president of the Nashik Transport Association. Singhal said that according to NHAI guidelines, the distance between two toll plazas should not be less than 60 km. The distance between the Pimpalgaon and Chandwad toll plaza is only 35 km.
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
Express News Service | New Delhi
It was a pleasant ride for the office goers in the national capital region as the Gurgaon toll plaza was removed late Wednesday night. The toll plaza at the Delhi border was removed following an order of the Delhi High Court.
While the removal of toll plaza at the Delhi-Gurgaon border has made the movement for those commuting to and from Gurgaon free of traffic snarls and brought a mild relief to their pockets, those travelling beyond Gurgaon towards Manesar and Jaipur will now have to shed more.
The toll rate at the Kherki Dhaula toll has been almost doubled – from Rs 27 to Rs 56.
The High Court decision resolved a two-year-long dispute between the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), project financier IDFC and toll operator Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd (DGSCL).
Justice Manmohan Singh in his order approved the consent agreement, under which the IDFC has agreed to pay a sum of Rs 24.65 crore to DGSCL. It was submitted in court that it has already issued demand drafts to the tune of Rs 8.85 crore to DGSCL. The affidavit also said the IDFC was bound to pay the remaining amount — Rs 15.8 crore — by way of demand draft before February 28, 2014.
The notification states that there will be no extra burden on the users between Delhi-Jaipur. Between Manesar and Gurgaon, users may avail discounts available to local traffic by taking a pass for 30 days.
The decision on whether to dismantle the toll plaza at 61KM has not yet been taken, with parties stating in the affidavit that it was up to the Roadways ministry to consider the issue.
Under the agreement, the NHAI has also offered to keep four lanes on the left for the South Municipal Corporation to collect tax from commercial vehicles entering Delhi.
The South corporation has raised certain objections to the arrangement, arguing that it would not be possible to collect the tax as there would be no mechanism to ensure that commercial vehicles keep to the dedicated toll lanes.
The court will now hear the plea filed by South corporation and toll collection agent SMS AAMW Tollways on Thursday.
And the move has certainly brought huge relief to the daily commuters between Delhi and Gurgaon.
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.