July 30, 2014
Many expressed discontent over paying toll at existing location
A new toll plaza under construction at Vagaikulam on NH 7 A (Tuticorin-Palayamkottai Bypass Road) will be ready in a month, says NHAI Project Director.
After discontent started brewing among heavy vehicle users over paying toll at the existing plaza at Thattaparai junction on Palayamkottai Road, the toll plaza was being shifted to Vagaikulam.
The plaza comprising six toll collection counters with approaching lanes and other infrastructure facilities was being constructed at a cost of Rs.1.4 crore, K. Thangavel, Project Director, NHAI, Madurai, who is in-charge of Tirunelveli, told The Hindu on Tuesday.
He said bhoomi puja for the toll plaza was performed on May 1 and works started immediately. Since local truck operators and other vehicle drivers registered in Tuticorin were reluctant to pay the toll after demanding the shifting of the plaza beyond Vagaikulam airport approach road, the toll agency withdrew from collecting toll.
The toll plaza is a key component of the 47.2-kilometre port connectivity project, which commenced in May 2010 on NH 7A. The toll collection was resumed here from May 1 this year after a gap of 10 months.
The Project Director said the revised toll fee notifications were awaited. Communiqué on this special purpose vehicle project, a joint venture of V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, Tuticorin and the NHAI, had already been forwarded to the NHAI, New Delhi. Once the project was completed, the notification would be implemented at the new toll plaza.
The 47-km-long four-lane road project from the port to Palayamkottai commenced in May 2010. After completing the work, the project contractor collected toll initially in April 2013.
After a scuffle between road users and toll staff in June 2013, personnel deployed at the counters left their jobs fearing risk of assault.
A lorry owners’ association here claimed that around 400 locally registered lorry operators had been carrying essential goods, including water, vegetables and salt to 11 villages around the toll plaza. These heavy vehicles would have to go through this toll plaza at frequent intervals. So, the agency should exempt these local operators from paying the toll, they sought.
They also agreed to pay the toll once the plaza was shifted to Vagaikulam.
Subsequently, a few persons, including MDMK district secretary S. Joel from Tuticorin, filed writ petitions against toll collection and demanded the shifting of the toll plaza to a new location beyond Vagaikulam Airport.
The toll collection once again came to a halt since the case was pending. Based on the NHAI’s submission that the toll plaza would be shifted to Vagaikulam, Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on April 7, 2014 disposed of the writ petitions filed by five persons.
The court directed the NHAI to shift the toll plaza within four months, Mr. Thangavel said.
July 29, 2014
Annuity mode or tolling has been mooted to attract bidders to develop the 43.62-km stretch of the National Highway 66 (NH 66) bypass from Kazhakuttam to Karode into a four-lane carriageway.
Annuity mode or tolling has been mooted to attract bidders to develop the 43.62-km stretch of the National Highway 66 (NH 66) bypass from Kazhakuttam to Karode into a four-lane carriageway.
The suggestions had been made as at least five companies had shown ‘lack of interest’ to the request for proposal (RFP) floated by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to develop the 26-km stretch from Kazhakuttam to Mukkola initially.
Opposition to toll collection in the State, its non-feasibility, and delay in handing over land for the 17.62-km stretch of the road up to Karode on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border had been cited as the main reasons for the withdrawal of the companies.
An official of a company who participated in the RFP told The Hindu that the provisions to provide a link from the NH 66 to the proposed Kazhakuttam-Karode bypass had also affected the take off of the project, dragging on for over four decades now.
‘Financial closure’ was perceived difficult as toll volume would be low. Not many multi-axle vehicles moved through the stretch, qualified bidders had informed the NHAI.
Mostly, small cars would take the road and only 30 to 40 per cent of the road capacity would be used once it became a four-lane carriageway, he said.
The Public-Private Partnership Appraisal Committee had given the nod to take up the first 26 km on a public-private partnership (PPP) mode, for Rs.577.95 crore. The total project cost would be Rs.1,170 crore.
The bidders had also sought a revision of the design in view of the 16 road crossings proposed. At Venpalavattom, Chakka, Enchakkal, and Thiruvallom, vehicular underpasses had been mooted.
They had also told the NHAI that banks would give ‘financial closure’ to annuity mode as banks strictly followed RBI lending guidelines.
Land had been acquired for a four-lane stretch and to the extent of 45 metres on the Kazhakuttam-Chakka-Eenchakkal-Kovalam stretch. Fixing the fair value for the land in the Chenkal and Karode Blocks had been the major hurdle in completing land acquisition, sources said.
July 15, 2014
The ongoing disputes over highway stretches, such as Kishangarh-Ahmedabad and Gurgaon-Jaipur, has made it “challenging” for the Highway Ministry and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to implement common electronic toll collection (ETC) system on the Delhi-Mumbai highway stretch.
The Ministry is trying to put in place an electronic toll collection system in the Delhi-Mumbai toll road by mid-August. This will ensure that with an electronic tag attached on vehicles, drivers can zoom across national highways with automatic, electronic toll payment without having to stop and pay cash at toll booths.
It will also allow people to use a common card to drive between Delhi and Mumbai by paying tolls on some 30-35 toll plazas located on the stretch. The electronic toll system is already operational on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad stretch.
The national highway between Kishangarh and Ahmedabad is a disputed stretch. The project was bagged by GMR for six-laning and the company had stated its intent to exit the project unless the Government extended some benefits. This stretch lies on the Delhi-Mumbai NH route.
For all seven toll plazas on Kishangarh-Ahmedabad stretch, NHAI is implementing the electronic toll collection on a public-funded basis. “Tecsidel, a Spanish firm is installing ETC systems on 20 public toll plazas of NHAI,” said a source in the know.
Explaining the preparedness of Delhi-Mumbai national highway for the project, an official said, “The Delhi-Gurgaon stretch has an ETC system based on older technology. It has been taken over by IDFC and the developer is installing the project now.”
Then, there is the Gurgaon-Jaipur expressway, being implemented jointly by KMC Constructions and ETA, which is disputed as the developer is short of funds and there are plans of NHAI stepping in to complete the project.
Finally, there is the Ahmedabad-Mumbai stretch, in which 10 out of 11 toll plazas are already connected on the ETC system.
About 15,506 km of highways were being tolled as of March 31, 2014. There are 374 toll plazas, of which 210 were public-funded roads.
(This article was published on July 14, 2014)
July 10, 2014
Dipak Kumar Dash, TNN |
NEW DELHI: With the change of government, a major modification in the “tolling” norms on highways is likely. The road transport ministry is mulling a model where commuters are asked to pay toll for the stretch they actually travel rather than paying for the entire corridor between two toll plazas.This concept is called “closed tolling”; something that’s practiced on Yamuna Expressway.
At present, open tolling system is followed across the country. Under this system, a commuter has to pay for the entire distance between two toll plazas even when he travels only a few kilometers.
During a power-point presentation before road transport minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday, ministry officials said local commuters have protested paying toll for an entire stretch despite travelling only short distances. Sources said the minister asked officials to find a solution to this.
“Now we will start work to address this concern of many commuters. We are very much aware of our condition in comparison to what is prevalent in developed countries. The model of closed tolling can be followed in the case of new expressways and highways,” said a ministry official.
Government officials said the ministry will have to amend its toll rules so that toll plazas can be allowed at shorter distances. “We can address commuters’ concern of paying toll at shorter intervals, once we implement the single tag that can be used for paying toll across the plazas,” a source said.
On the menace of overloading of vehicles, the minister told officials that there should be higher fine for intentional overloading. The penalty can be less for overloading up to 10-15% where it’s unintentional, such as a tractor carrying farm produce.
July 10, 2014
NEW DELHI: In a move to ensure that toll roads are maintained well and expanded to meet the growing traffic, the latest Economic Survey has recommended to the government to examine whether the contract can provide for “reduced tariff” if the operator fails to meet the promised services.The report has recommended that international practices such as ‘traffic trigger’ and ‘re-equilibrium discount’ could be examined to address some of the problems faced in the sector. A ‘traffic trigger’ clause in the contract implies that once a certain volume of traffic is reached, the concessionaire is obligated to increase the capacity so that minimum level of service is maintained. The ‘re-equilibrium discount’ is used to reduce tariff when performance parameters are not met. In such case a table of discounts is pre-defined in the contract.
Considering the major problem in the execution of road projects on public-private partnership (PPP) mode, the Survey has recommended an alternative strategy. It said government agencies can award projects as engineering contracts to build the asset in which the construction company is protected from political and regulatory risks. In such cases, the government bodies would bear the cost of construction.
Soon after the construction is over, a second contract can be given out to a private firm to toll the asset for one year and produce data about present levels of toll revenue. “This could set the stage for a long-term, say contract combining tolling and maintenance. These projects would be able to absorb a high level of long-term bond-market financing, and thus yield low tolls,” the Survey said.
It said these firms would generate cash flows for the government which would offset the original expenditure for constructing the asset.
For all infrastructure sectors, the Survey has said lack of consistency in policies needs to be addressed urgently apart from removing procedural bottlenecks. “Removing procedural bottlenecks, improving governance, and above all maintaining consistency in government infrastructure policies are some issues that need to be urgently addressed,” the report said.
The document highlighted how as many as 110 out of 239 central sector infrastructure projects, each costing Rs 1,000 crore or above, have reported delays, which range up to 26 months in cases of steel, coal, power and petroleum projects.
The total original cost of implementation of these projects was about Rs 7.4 lakh crore and their anticipated completion cost is likely to be Rs 8.98 lakh crore, implying an overall cost overrun by 21.3%, it said.
The Survey mentioned that while growth in power and fertilizers segments was higher, sectors like coal, steel, cement and refinery witnessed lower growth.
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.
April 7, 2014
DEEPA H. RAMAKRISHNAN
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.
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.
December 18, 2013
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.
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.