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.
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 12, 2014
Hindustan Times (Delhi)
With a little vision, the authorities could have avoided digging the second time. SURINDER SINGH, Nihal Vihar
The Nangloi-Najafgarh Road is a vital road link that connects north Delhi with west Delhi. The road sees heavy vehicular traffic throughout the day, and is one of the worst stretches in the city. Commuters lament that this has been the condition on the road for the last few years and given the state of affairs, the problems are likely to continue next year as well.
NADEEM HASSAN / HT PHOTO Work on Nangloi-Najafgarh Road was completed six months back and now it will be dug up again by DJB .The main reason for the problems related to the Nangloi-Najafgarh Road is the lack of coordination between different government agencies and lack of planning as well. The public works department (PWD) was involved in giving a fresh concrete layer to the road in the last few years. But the work was hampered when the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) initiated a major rupees nine crore sewerline project for the villages lining the road. The residents of villages such as Baprola, Bakarwala and Nilothi had been demanding a sewerline for years.
As a result the road was dug up and the road laying project got derailed and was consequently delayed. Though the road was completed six months ago after a delay of a couple of years, it is again going to be dug up by DJB. Says Pankaj Singh, the area councillor, “The sewerline the DJB had laid down for five villages along NangloiNajafgrah Road was a small one. Now in addition to these villages there are 25 other unauthorised colonies lining the road. Now the DJB has cleared another project of Rs 24 crore for putting in a bigger line.”
Says Surinder Singh, a resident of Nihal Vihar, “Only with a little vision, the authorities could have included these unauthorised colonies in the earlier sewerline project. This would have saved a lot of taxpayer’s money and also avoided another round of digging on the recently laid down road. The commuters are now going to have a tough time. But sewerline for our colonies is also an important issue.”
Another problem pertaining to the Nangloi-Najafgarh Road has been illegal vendors occupying precious road space. The problem still continues. Says Sukhdev Dabbas, a resident, “During evening hours, the road sees so much traffic and the presence of illegal vendors whose numbers is ever increasing, only compounds our problems.”
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 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 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 25, 2013
By YASHODHARA DASGUPTA, ET Bureau |
NEW DELHI: The National Highways Authority of India board has approved engineering and construction firm L&T’s plans to set up a business trust in Singapore and list six toll road projects on theSingapore stock exchange that could raise up to $1 billion.The business trust will be set by the firm’s subsidiary L&T Infra Development Projects Ltd (IDPL) and the parent company can offload its equity in these six road projects to the trust, persons familiar with the matter told ET.The trust will have to form a special purpose vehicle, which will float or issue units to investors on these assets through an initial public offer. The trust will then issue debt instruments in the form of debentures to the SPVs undertaking these highway projects, said the persons, who did not wish to be named.
This will be implemented as a policy measure so that other developers looking at a similar route can follow suit, they said.
“Infrastructure stocks on the Indian stock market are not doing too well whereas the Singapore stock market is and they have mature investors who can handle long-term investments. While this will be subject to many factors including the Singapore stock exchange allowing it, if it is successful it will be a positive development since other developers can use it as an additional source of funding for their projects,” said Abhaya Agarwal, partner-infrastructure and PPP at consulting firm EY.
The six road projects include the Rs 1370 crore Krishnagiri-Walajahpet project in Tamil Nadu which is under implementation and five other completed projects including the Vadodara-Bharuch, Palanpur-Swaroopganj, Krishnagiri-Thopur projects and the Panipat elevated corridor.
The business trust model is similar to REIT or real estate investment trust model which offers revenue-generating real estate to investors.
A spokesperson of L&T told ET, “The company does not comment on market speculation.” L&T IDPL did not respond to the questionnaire sent by ET.
The NHAI board’s approval is subject to certain checks and balances which it has said the company must follow including that the company must get a legal opinion on the matter and the interest rate at which the trust lends to the SPVs must not be more than the interest rate it pays to its current lenders. In addition, the foreign exchange risk must be borne by the trust, it has specified.
“Road projects are public assets and in any case of equity transfer of more than 15%, it has to be approved by NHAI. Also, refinancing or changes in debt structure have also to be approved by us,” said an official familiar with the matter.
October 19, 2013
NEW DELHI: A month after National Highways Authority of India moved a proposal to suspend tolling on the Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch, the authority’s board is likely to consider the plan on Tuesday. The board has representation from highways and finance ministries besides the Planning Commission.Sources said the proposal was included in the agenda since the road transport and highways ministry had advised NHAI to first take the matter to the board. The ministry was of the opinion that suspension of toll till expansion work was completed would impact finances of the project and the issue should be considered in detail by the board. “Once the board approves the proposal, the matter will be referred to the highways ministry for order,” a source said.
NHAI in its earlier note to the ministry sought in-principle approval to suspend toll on all delayed projects where tolling was allowed even during construction phase. It had cited the example of the Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch of NH-8 where widening work missed several deadlines. TOI had run a series of articles highlighting commuters’ woes, who not only pay toll but also face traffic jams.
NHAI had said that in case private developers fail to maintain the stretches properly and miss completion targets despite land availability, the authority was empowered to take over the stretch and collect toll. But since this would not bring relief to road users, who would still have to pay toll for travelling through substandard and congested stretches, NHAI suggested stopping toll collection as a deterrent for consistent defaulters. “Since the contract agreement does not have a provision of suspending toll, we have sought permission from the ministry. This is a public interest issue,” an NHAI official had told TOI. Among other works that have missed several deadlines is the Panipat-Jalandhar six-laning project.
October 15, 2013
Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times Chandigarh,
Haryana’s law department has advised the state government against acquiring the toll plaza rights of the Delhi-Gurgaon toll project by invoking political force majeure clause, citing a pending litigation in the Delhi high court and huge financial implications.
“However, the matter involves huge financial implications. Also it is pending adjudication before the HC. If the termination notice issued by the NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) is held legal, the financial liabilities shall be much less than the state invoking political force majeure clause of the agreement. It is suggested that Haryana should support the termination notice and get the matter resolved from the court urgently in public interest. So, under these circumstances, it would not be appropriate to proceed further ignoring the termination notice and stay order passed by Delhi HC,” the law department wrote.
A concession agreement was signed in 2002 between the NHAI and concessionaire Jaypee DSC Ventures Limited (later named Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited) for making the Delhi-Gurgaon section of the national highway-8 into an access controlled highway on built-operate-transfer (BOT) basis for a concession period of 20 years.
A state-support agreement of the project was signed among the concessionaire, NHAI, Haryana and Delhi governments. The project was put to commercial operation in January 2008. Subsequently, problems pertaining to traffic — long queues and logjams — on toll plazas started affecting the commuters.
In March this year, the NHAI had issued a notice of termination of the agreement to the concessionaire on the grounds such as non-fulfillment of various clauses, and non-maintenance of the main accessway and lanes.
Officials said the concessionaire was expected to improve the lanes at Kherki Dhaula toll and integrate the collection system at the main Gurgaon toll plaza. The notice was also issued as the concessionaire had raised loans by securitising the toll collection and without informing the NHAI.
The Delhi high court, subsequently, stayed the effect of the termination notice after the concessionaire challenged it in court.
In May, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda wrote to the NHAI seeking shifting of the two toll plazas — at the entry of the Gurgaon and near Kherki Dhaula to Bilaspur.
TWO OPTIONS EXPLORED
The matter was discussed in a board meeting of the NHAI on May 14 and it was conveyed to the Haryana government that the first option was to press before the high court to allow termination of the concession agreement in the event of concessionaire’s default. In this case, the termination payment works out to beRs. 118 crore.
The next option was to press before the high court to allow the NHAI to acquire the toll plaza, citing political force majeure in light of problems being faced by citizens and request made by the government. The NHAI though put a rider that in such an eventuality: a clear commitment should be obtained from the government that the liability on account of termination payment – around ` 335 crore and any other claim which may arise on the account of termination — will be borne by the government
HARYANA BECOMES PARTY TO THE CASE
The state government then got itself impleaded in the high court. In its application, Haryana said it supported the termination notice issued by the NHAI and requested that both existing toll plazas be removed and erected at Bilaspur on the NH-8.
It also prayed that the high court may terminate the agreement with a one-time termination payment of Rs.118 crore or allow a Haryana’s proposal to acquire project/rights under political force majeure clause whereupon the state will bear liability on the account of termination payment. If the two options are not possible, the government may be allowed to operate a single toll plaza in Bilaspur
October 11, 2013
JAIPUR: Bowing to public outcry on charging toll on under expansion highways, the Central government has slashed the toll rates on the Jaipur-Gurgaon stretch of National Highway 8. The stretch, known for traffic bottlenecks and pothole-riddled roads, could see a nearly 25% reduction in existing toll rates.
The decision which was taken during the recently held cabinet meeting on Tuesday is yet to be circulated. Union minister for road transport and highways Oscar Fernandes however hinted at a cut in toll rates.
Currently, commuters plying from Jaipur to Delhi pay Rs 55 at Shahpura and Rs 115 at a toll gate near Shajapur. Those travelling to and fro the same day are charged Rs 254.
The decision comes in the wake of protests from various sections of the society to suspend the toll collection on the stretch till the time the six-laning project is complete. A public interest litigation (PIL) has also been filed in the Supreme Court, which is pending before the court.
Supporting the public outburst over the deplorable condition of the road, governor Margaret Alva had shot a letter to the Union transport minister in early September. In her communication she justified the public demand to stop charging the toll until the road expansion project is complete. Later on the request of the governor, Fernandes had travelled by road from Delhi to Jaipur and taken stock of the situation.
Sources from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) claimed that they have proposed to cap the rates at 75% of the present toll during the widening of the highway from four to six lanes. “We recommended that the toll be reduced by one-fourth in case there are any delays in completion of the project. Revised toll rates on Jaipur-Gurgaon highway will become clear only when we receive any instruction from the ministry,” said senior official of NHAI.
The widening work on the stretch was started in April 2009 and will finish, at the earliest, by March 2014. Appalling condition of the Jaipur-Gurgaon highway has become a major issue with the opposition cornering the government over it ahead of upcoming elections.