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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Fernandes lauds HT campaign, bats for toll-free model

Sanjeev K Ahuja and Anupam Thapa, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 05, 2013
First Published: 02:34 IST(5/9/2013) | Last Updated: 02:37 IST(5/9/2013)

Lauding HT's efforts to bring to light the issues plaguing commuters on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, Union minister for road transport and highways Oscar Fernandes has acknowledged the fact that the toll plazas have failed to deliver and hoped that the court delivers a favourable verdict in public interest.

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The senior Congress leader on Tuesday congratulated the Hindustan Times team for carrying out relentless campaigns on the expressway and its toll plazas when the team met with him in New Delhi to hand over the petitions addressed to him by thousands of disgruntled commuters. He also went through a news report from HT’s ongoing “Taking a Toll” campaign which was started on July 29.

“There are reports that commuters are harassed at various toll plazas on various roads, but the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway is a different case as we see traffic jams on a daily basis here. This issue is being discussed in the high court and we hope that the decision would come in favour of the commuters. In the case of the expressway, people do not mind paying toll of R21 but they fail to get the benefit of paying the same,” said Fernandes.

The Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka said that his ministry planned to launch a pilot project to test electronic tolling system, which would allow commuters to cross toll plazas without halting, and it, he said, would be implemented across all the national highways if it was successful.

While endorsing his support for the proposed toll-free model in which the commuters are not charged toll and the operator instead earns revenue out of non-toll options such as rentals out of real estate rights and advertisements, Fernandes said that this proposal could be tried as it did not affect revenue inflow for the operator.

The ministry of road transport and highways has zeroed in on Hero Honda crossing on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway and Delhi-Dhasna Road for the project where the operator would be given out realty rights.

The commuters here would not have to pay toll for a trouble-free ride. “It is a good proposal as it does not affect the revenue intake and the commuter also does not need to pay toll,” said Fernandes.

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