NHAI board rejects plan to suspend tolling on Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch

October 23, 2013

Dipak Kumar Dash, TNN |

NEW DELHI: National Highways Authority of India’s proposal to suspend toll on the Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch of NH-8 till completion of widening was turned down by its board on Tuesday.

The NHAI board, which has members from three different departments and ministries, felt suspension of toll collection would kill the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model for road construction and would also go against “contract conditions”.

The board met on Tuesday to decide on several items relating to highway projects including this case. “NHAI had put the toll suspension proposal to bring relief to commuters during delayed construction phase. But the decision had to be taken by the board. Now the authority will serve notice to the private contractor and if fails to meet the targets, NHAI can take over the project,” said a government official.

In that case, the project will come back to NHAI and it will have the tolling right. Sources said this provision is clearly mentioned in the concession agreement and it should be “implemented”. The authority in its original proposal had pitched for toll suspension citing that even if NHAI charges toll, there will be no relief to road users.

“Since there is huge investment of banks and financial institutions, suspending toll collection will have severe implications on the sector as a whole. After taking over the project, NHAI can pay back the loan,” an official said. He added that NHAI will take up regular maintenance and full development of the project.

Those who favoured this decision felt NHAI could push the pace of construction by putting a large portion of the total toll collection in project work. At present, NHAI gets 52% share of the toll collected. Officials said to pump more funds for faster construction, NHAI can defer taking this revenue share.

Although Tuesday’s decision comes as a blow to commuters using this stretch, in case of future six-laning projects, tolling will be suspended in case developers fail to meet the deadline. This decision was taken recently by the Cabinet.

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