‘Lack of transparency in toll collection’

September 29, 2014

While many consider the concept of toll roads as undemocratic, even those who agree in principle express reservations on the way it is implemented.

The bone of contention has been the provision of an un-tolled alternate route or a service road, giving commuters a choice. However, Surendra Kumar Project Director, of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Bangalore, told The Hindu that NHAI rules do not mandate providing an alternate route or service road.

Toll roads have not been popular with rural residents as well. Though rules mandate free access to them in a five km radius around the toll gate and access at concessional rate in a 20 km radius, most protests against toll collection have been supported by the locals.

V.M. Manjunath, a writer and artist who lost land when the National Highway 7 was widened, said that residents felt their freedom had been curtailed due to the International Airport and NH 7. Farmer unions have been demanding for non-collection of toll until service roads are provided.

Lack of transparency

“There is a complete lack of transparency in the process of toll collection. Information on traffic at toll plazas and toll collected everyday is not made public. The private investors should not be allowed to loot the public even after recouping their investment. The contracts are time-bound, rather than being bound by the toll amount collected,” said V. Ravichander, an urban expert.

Two recent court orders which stayed toll collection on particular stretches of highways point towards the lack of transparency in toll collection and attempts to make them accountable, activists said.

The Madras High Court recently stayed toll collection on the Vellore stretch of Chennai-Bangalore Highway as road repair work was being undertaken and the road was not in the condition that the developer had promised. The Delhi High Court had earlier in the year ordered the removal of 12 toll-plazas on Gurgaon Expressway.


Source:The Hindu

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