In order to generate more revenue hooghly river bridge commissioners (HRBC) have decided to erect big hoardings and billboards in front of existing hoardings on the rooftops of buildings along Vidyasagar Setu and its connecting flyovers in Kolkata and Howrah.
Owners of many residential buildings are doing brisk business selling rooftop spaces to advertising agencies at a time when the bridge, the prime lifeline for the city and eastern states, is crying out for maintenance.
“Owners generate money selling rooftop space on their buildings along the bridge and flyovers. We have decided to generate more revenue using the bridge and flyovers by erecting big billboards in front of the existing hoardings,” Kalyan Banerjee, HRBC chairman and Trinamool Congress MP, said.
A senior HRBC official said the transport department had already increased revenue generation by Rs. 45 crore annually from the agency selected to collect toll tax from vehicles plying on the bridge. The state government used to earn Rs. 27 crore as toll tax annually.
The government has already selected the highest bidder. Four agencies based in Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi participated in the tender selection process.
A senior HRBC official said the number of vehicles plying on the bridge has already increased to around 70,000 vehicles, including two-wheelers, a day. However, government revenue generation has remained the same since 2006. A major portion of the revenue is spent for the maintenance of the bridge.
The transport department has taken several other steps to reduce regular traffic snarls at toll plazas on both sides of the bridge. Two ramps connecting the bridge will come up on either side of the toll plaza. The ramps will directly connect Howrah station through Foreshore Road along Hooghly.
Howrah Station-bound passengers from the south Kolkata find it difficult to avail trains using crossing Vidyasagar Setu toll plaza. Now they will reach Howrah Station through Foreshore Road using the ramp of the Setu. On the other hand, it will be easier for the south Kolkata bound passengers from Howrah Station to use the Setu through the ramp.
“The government has taken several moves to generate revenue from the Vidyasagar Setu without increasing toll tax. The government will also impose toll tax for vehicles using ramps,” said the HRBC official.