No toll on incomplete highways, says govt

India, June 4 -- Commuters traveling on national highways (NH) across India are in for a big relief.

If a road ministry proposal gets the cabinet nod, highway developers won't be able to charge any toll till such time the highway is 100 % complete. The ministry has decided to do away with the clause of "provisional completion" where developers were allowed to charge toll after a highway was 75% complete.

Besides, in highways that are being expanded from four lane to six lane, the developers would be able to charge just 80% toll till such time that the upgradation work is over.

Apprehending that public anger over having to pay hefty toll on highways - even wh

en their expansion work is going on - may mar its electoral prospects, the government is planning to not only reduce the toll on all such stretches but also freeze it till the upgradation work is completed.

The reduced toll, officials said, will compel private developers to complete the work on time. At present, developers are in no hurry to complete work on time as under the existing rule for upgrading a highway from four to six lanes, they are allowed to charge full toll even while the expansion work is going on.

"We have finalized the proposal to amend the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008. It will come up for cabinet approval shortly," a senior ministry official said.

However, traveling on two-laned highways - a majority of which are toll free so far - could soon burn a hole in your pocket. The ministry has proposed to charge 60 % of the normal toll on all such stretches.

Till now, only such two-laned roads were tolled where the average investment for upgradation was Rs. 2.5 crore per km. But now the financial parameter has been replaced with a physical parameter which will make tolling mandatory on all two-laned stretches which are over 10 metre wide.

Traveling on high-speed, access controlled expressways will also get more expensive. The ministry has proposed to levy a toll which would be 1.25 times the prevailing toll on national highways.

The new rate would be applicable on all greenfield expressways the road ministry has proposed to build across the country.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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