My father, my grand father have surely paid for the National Highways by paying their taxes. Thus many National Highways were expanded, maintained and some new ones constructed out of their taxes! To LOOT the third generation for maintaining these OLD HIGHWAYS, is usurious.
When one traverses three segments of National Highways connecting Bangalore to Chennai, which are NH 46, NH 84 and NH 7, one feels that these Highways were infrastructure built through generations of activity. Activity of Indians paying their taxes, the Government acquiring land to expand those Highways and maintaining them out of these revenue receipts.
But somewhere along the line, we INDIANS are taken for a ride. The three NHs of 7, 46 and 84 consisting of around 280 Kilometres are divided between toll operators who are located at Krishnagiri, outskirts of Vaniyambadi, outskirts of Vellore, near Wallajahpet and finally at Sriperumbudur. These are the TOLL joints as one travels from Bangalore to Chennai. From Hosur to Krishnagiri is NH 7, then from Krishnagiri to outskirts of Ranipettai (near the Wallajapet toll) is NH46 and the last stretch from Wallajahpet to Chennai (Vanagaram) is NH 84.
These 280kms have been split up between these 5 toll operators. These Highways were built, rather renovated, on a BOT basis. They were to collect the toll upon completion of renovation and recover their cost.
From the 6th or 7th of June 2011, the rates of two tolls have been revised from Rs. 25 to Rs 60 and the other from Rs 35 to Rs 60. Each of these tolls collect tolls for usage of around 50 Kms. Which means per KM cost of using these tolls are Rs 1.20 per KM. Motorbikes, autorickshaws and ambulances are exempted. Which means only passenger cars, trucks, LCVs and other Heavy vehicles are tolled!
These roads were NOT acquired recently, they were existing roads which were through a bidding process allotted for laying and collection of tolls. These collections are not necessarily done by the companies which LAID THE ROADS. These companies which laid the roads have probably exited after selling their stake to another company, working out the REVENUE generatable from toll operations in the remainder of the years. This sudden revision of the toll rates took me by surprise. When asked, who were the toll operators one of the persons manning the Krishnagiri Toll said that RELIANCE Industries were operating the toll.
I see that these NATIONAL HIGHWAYS for which lands were acquired way back in the 50’s and 60’s are being handed over to these cash rich, well connected companies and allowed to LOOT from the helpless travelers. On the one hand it is the avowed policy of all the parties in power, therefore the Government of India, to create infrastructure facilities for free interaction and exchange of goods. Yet this LOOTING of passengers, who travel by cars is PREPOSTEROUS.
My fore fathers paid for the roads and now I pay for these fat cat companies, in the guise of maintenance! And these are limited to the NH in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat and Maharashtra where the traffic is enormous because of manufacturing and other trading activities. Whereas even though there are similar roads in other parts of the country they do not generate this level of income.
By usage of my car if the roads are eroded to the extent of Rs1.20 per KM, then the justification should be transparantly explained by mentioning the toll collections for the year, maintenance charges, salaries and other expenses and the profits made from these operations. Further, as these companies are prone to inflating their expenses on BOOKS and thereby showing REDUCED profits, their books should be audited by the CAG, as these are toll collectors who are stepping in to do the functions of the Government.
Sure PPP is an instrument of growth, but using that as a means to EXPLOIT succeeding generations is DESPICABLE to say the least! I hope the government would be rational in their toll collection in high activity states like Tamil Nadu and not use these for netting off the losses incurred in toll operations in sluggish, uneducated and feudal states of India.
It has been recently reported in the papers that in NH47 between Aroor and Edappally near Cochin-Ernakulam, there was a toll collection of Rs5, which was revised to Rs 15/-. The locals went to the toll plaza and got it vandalized.
Another instance is the Bangalore International Airport Ltd., who have taken objection to NH7 collecting toll from the taxi operators.
There is a Private Limited company called MEPL, who collect @ 45% of all toll collected in this country. Any effort to find out the persons behind this Private Limited Company from the Indian websites is in vain. One has to rely on REUTERS for dope on their activities. One can access this from the following link:
Such is our transparency. The article is posted by me as a comment to this blog! As it is not uncommon for such articles to disappear, when found inconvenient by the Pvt. Ltd Company!
Finally, toll collected is a FEE and not a TAX. Only to the extent that the users have enjoyed “COLLECTIVELY” that the FEE is to be charged. But there seems to be an UNDUE HASTE by the Government to PULL OUT MONEY from the road users more like a TAX than as a FEE!
GOD HELP INDIA!