The drive on DND Flyway — a crucial link for commuters between Delhi and the satellite city — may now cost more.
The Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd (NTBCL) seeks a hike in the existing tax and the matter will be taken up in a board of directors meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
"We expect a hike of around 20%. However, a final decision will be taken by the board," DND Flyway chief general manager DS Yadav said on Tuesday. If approved, a two-wheeler may have to pay R12 instead of R10 as toll. Likewise, a four-wheeler may need to shell out R24 instead of R20.
Approximately 1 lakh vehicles use the expressway on a daily basis. Out of them, 22% are two-wheelers, 75% are cars and 3% are commercial vehicles. The average toll collection per vehicle amounts to R18-19.
Although NTBCL is entitled to a 10% annual hike according to a concession agreement, there has been no increase in the fee for the last two years.
Officials of Noida authority have protested any increase in the tax levied. In the past one year, there have been four meetings to decide the fate of the current tax structure.
Earlier, the toll was increased on April 1, 2009. Several protests were staged by residents for more than a fortnight. The hike was rolled back on April 27, just ten days before the parliamentary elections.
This time too, dissent hasn't taken a back seat.
"Noida authority chief executive officer Mohinder Singh is a nominee director of the NTBCL board. Our stand is clear. We don't want any hike," Chandra Bhushan Singh, the authority's deputy chief executive officer, said. "We have been protesting the move for the last two years. Traffic volume on the DND is already decreasing and if commuters have to shell out more, the number of vehicles will come down further".
Noida authority has made it clear that if the NTBCL is serious about any hike, it must carry out a survey by a reputed agency first to convince officials. At the time of construction, there was an agreement that NTBCL will recover any loss from Noida authority.
The agency, which has been compensating the firm, said increasing tax will lead to more losses as the expressway footfall will decline further.
"If the NTBCL goes for a hike, they have to do so with our permission. In that case, the development authority will have to issue a notification. The MoU says so. We have commissioned a chartered accountant and a law officer to examine the relevant points. We're going to oppose the move at Wednesday's meeting," another senior Noida authority official said.
Residents are equally vocal.
Suresh Tiwari, general secretary, Federation of Noida Residents Welfare Association, said: "The federation has written to the UP chief minister to ... let Noida authority manage it and make the expressway toll free. The losses shown by the company are exaggerated."