DEEPA H. RAMAKRISHNAN
The HinduThe hike has not been received very well by freight carriers, omni-bus owners and the general public. R. Sukumar, president, Tamil Nadu Lorry Owners Federation, termed the hike ‘unfair’. File Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
If you are travelling to Bangalore or Tindivanam via Tambaram, you will now have to shell out more as toll rates on these roads have been hiked by 10 per cent from April 1.
Of the 40 toll plazas under the control of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in the State, the rates have been revised for 18. The rates will come into effect at the other plazas soon.
The hike has not been received very well by freight carriers, omni-bus owners and the general public. R. Sukumar, president, Tamil Nadu Lorry Owners Federation, termed the hike ‘unfair’.
“About 8 per cent of our operating costs go towards paying toll charges. Already, the prices for diesel, permits, tyre and insurance premiums have increased. Load carriers are unable to increase freight charges as it would only dissuade industries from moving goods,” he said.
Mr. Sukumar complained that though a portion of the toll charges was required to go towards maintenance of the roads, the NHAI was not spending much on maintenance. “Despite the fact that accidents keep happening and over 50 vulnerable spots have been identified all over the State, they don’t have ambulances or cranes as stipulated in the contracts with the companies collecting tolls,” he said.
As far as omni buses are concerned, each of the around 600 buses that ply in and out of the city will have to pay an additional Rs. 30 for every trip. M. Chandrasekaran of the Tamil Nadu Omni Bus Owners Association said that as ticket prices were increased only three months ago, there would not be another hike in the near future.
“There is a lot of competition in the market already. If we increase the prices further, more buses will run without passengers,” he said.
KPN Travels’ K. P. Natarajan said a consultation would be held amongst bus owners soon to decide the next course of action. “The industry as such increases bus ticket fares only when diesel prices increase. When that hike is effected, we will take into account recent toll fare revisions also,” he said.
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.
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.
Overloading is one of the major causes of road accidents and fatalities.
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.
Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
IRB Infrastructure Ltd has emerged as the preferred bidder for Rs 1,500 crore highway development contract for four-laning of the 98.7 km stretch between Solapur and Yedeshi in Maharashtra from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
A senior NHAI official said, “With the drying up of appetite for the toll-based projects in the last one year, the government had skewed its contract awards towards normal engineering, procurement construction (EPC) basis. Projects like this give an opportunity for asset development in addition to the growth in size for developers.”
The toll project, coming after a gap of almost a year, will be developed on a design build finance operate and transfer model by IRB.
IRB has sought a viability gap funding (VGF) of Rs 189 crore — about 12% of the capital cost of the project — from the NHAI.
In the toll model of the highway funding, the government offers VGF, or upfront grant, to developers, capped at 40% of the project cost. The developer raises the remaining amount in a 60:40 debt equity ratio.
IRB plans to develop the Solapur-Yedeshi section in 910 days. The concession period for this project is 29 years, which means IRB will retain the right on toll revenues from the project for 29 years before transferring the asset to the government.
This project will add up to the companies’ present construction order book of Rs 5,050 crore, which is to be executed in the next two to three years.
The company has 18 toll projects, of which 16 are operational.
Workers of different political parties on Thursday blockaded the toll booths on the Bangalore-Mangalore national highway at Panemangalore and the newly opened toll booth at Brahmarakootlu, terming it unfair that both booths were collecting toll within a stretch of four kilometres.
Members of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) gathered outside the Brahmarakootlu toll booth, and prevented operators from collecting toll from vehicles moving on the stretch. The booth had become operational from Wednesday.
“A lot of highway work is pending. The service roads needs to be done up, there is a flyover necessary at Brahmarakootlu. Moreover, what is the need to collect money from motorists from two points so close on the highway?” asked SDPI district secretary Akbar Ali.
The organisation has demanded that persons in the vicinity of the toll booth be exempted from paying toll, and that the toll be lowered to a ‘reasonable’ level.
For more than two hours, collection of toll was suspended at Brahmarakootlu.
Meanwhile, members of the BJP, led by former president of Dakshina Kannada unit of the BJP, K. Padmanabha Kottari picketed the toll booth at Panemangalore. Activists threw aside barricades and ensured that toll was not collected for most of the day.
Stanley Pinto,TNN |
MANGALORE: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) stopped toll collection at the Panemangalore Nethravathi toll booth temporarily on Thursday following protests by BJP, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and other organizations.
Residents of Bantwal Taluk had warned NHAI that they will carry out protests if they open a road toll booth at Brahmarakootlu without closing the Panemangalore bridge toll plaza.
Earlier, NHAI had notified that toll collection would commence at Brahmarakootlu on Mangalore – Bangalore National Highway on Thursday.
The BJP took the lead to organize the protest with former MLA Padmanabha Kottari, Rukmayya Poojari, former ZP member Thungappa Bangera and others blocking traffic at Panemangalore toll booth. NHAI officials, who arrived at the spot, held discussions with the BJP leaders and assured them that the uncertainty over the two toll booths will be cleared in three days and they will bring the matter to the notice of their higher ups.
Though some party workers started dismantling the toll booth, the leaders managed to pacify them.
Meanwhile, SDPI members carried out a protest asking NHAI to suspend toll collection till all work pertaining to NH is completed.
The new toll booth at Brahmarakootlu caused traffic jams as the approach road to the toll plaza was narrow. The Brahmarakootlu toll collection, which was stopped due to public protests, resumed after they were given police protection.
A few days ago, the issue was raised at a meeting called by MP Nalin Kumar Kateel with NHAI officials. Social activist Govinda Prabhu had said that Panemangalore bridge toll collection should be stopped as the new toll booth is just five km away from it.
At the meeting the villagers had pointed out that NHAI cannot operate two toll booths within a stretch of 60 km. However, NHAI project director Shriram Mishra had clarified that the restriction on toll gates is separate for roads and bridges.
MANGALORE: Travel to BC Road from Mangalore is set to get costlier. The National Highways Authority of India has decided to collect user fee on the 18.60 km National Highway Road from December 5 midnight. This will mean that travel- either by bus or own vehicle, barring two wheelers – will become costlier.
While it is Rs 20 for four-wheelers for single journey, it will be Rs 60 for buses. For the return journey within a day, it will be Rs 25 for four-wheelers, barring light commercial vehicles, and Rs 90 for buses. A gazette notification regarding this has already been issued.KSRTC Mangalore division traffic officer said that the corporation will hike the rates on the route. We will inform the central office and take a call. The maximum for ordinary buses will be Re 1 and Rs 2 to Rs 3 for Airavat buses,” the official said.NHAI gives a concession for buses in the form of a monthly pass for 50 single journeys at Rs 1,975. Four-wheelers have to pay Rs 585 for the passes. However, KSRTC officials said that their frequency is much more than that, especially for ordinary buses on Dharmasthala, Puttur, Sullia and BC Road routes.In anticipation of the hike, NHAI has deployed an agency to repair bad stretches and sand accumulated near the dividers on the road. The work on repairing the bad stretches, which got under way on Saturday will be completed in a fortnight,” said NHAI project director Shriram Mishra.Though the 37 km Surathkal-BC Road was constructed by an agency- Ircon International Limited – the toll collection and maintenance of the stretch will be carried out by different agencies. The toll booths have already been erected near Brahmarakootlu.
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court on Thursday sought reply from the state authorities concerned over a PIL questioning legality of collection of road tax at toll booths on the national as well as state highways across the state.Advocate K G Pandit has challenged the collection of road tax on all toll plazas on highways on the ground that the tax is collected by agencies authorized by the state government, but due permission for the same has not been obtained from the Centre. A notification issued in 1989 mandates the state government to get a nod from the Union government to authorize any agency to collect tax on roads. “Since no permission for the same has been obtained, the road tax collection going on across the state is illegal and it should be stopped straightaway,” the lawyer has argued.
After preliminary arguments, the court issued notice to the authorities concerned and kept further hearing three weeks later, advocate Pandit said.
OUR BUREAU |
Electronic tolling trial through use of mobile phones is currently on in major highways, said Oscar Fernandes, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways.Speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – EXCON 2013, he said “the trial is on to use the latest technology which establishes contacts with the toll booth almost a kilometre away for the toll gate to open.”When implemented, this will help overcome major pile-up of traffic at toll gates.“The government is also aware that the infrastructure projects often suffer from lack of funding or subject to many conditions by the lenders before funding. So, the government has directed the lenders to take ‘assets’ into account for funding projects. We are also stressing on development of maintenance-free roads which initially may cost a little more but in the long run, is much more economical,” he added.
In his address, Karnataka Minister for Transport, Ramalinga Reddy, said “Karnataka has a close association with CII to promote the industries of the state. We have enormous plan for the growth of the state across all districts.”
Reddy mentioned that one such initiative is the Bangalore-Mumbai Economic Corridor.
S. Gopalakrishnan, CII President, said that EXCON this year has attained new heights with 17 per cent growth in number of participants.
He pointed out that the pace of growth in infrastructure in India has not kept pace with demands and it is a major challenge for the country. Highways, modern bridges, world-class airports, reliable power, and clean water are in desperately short supply.
Vipin Sondhi, Chairman, EXCON 2013, said “The scope and reach of EXCON has been growing over the years and today we see the greatest number of industry and visitor participation, making it the biggest ever exhibition not just in India but also in South Asia.”
Sumit Mazumder, CII Vice-President, said that in India, construction is the second largest economic activity after agriculture. Construction accounts for nearly 65 per cent of the total investment in infrastructure and is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the surge in infrastructure investment over the next five years.
(This article was published on November 21, 2013)
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