Toll-free DND: Refund on passes withheld pending Supreme Court order
Nearly 5,000 pass-holders wait for a Supreme Court order to get the refund of the money they deposited with Noida Toll Bridge Company Limited (NTBCL) towards toll for using the Delhi-Noida-Delhi flyway.delhi Updated: Oct 27, 2016 20:22 IST
Nearly 5,000 pass-holders now wait for a Supreme Court order to get the refund of the money they deposited with Noida Toll Bridge Company Limited (NTBCL) towards toll for using the Delhi-Noida-Delhi flyway.
NTBCL officials said the decision to refund balance amount to cardholders will be taken only after the Supreme Court order in the matter. The apex court will hear the matter on Friday, according to company officials.
After Allahabad high court ordered the removal of toll on Delhi-Noida-Direct (DND) on Wednesday, NTBCL approached the Supreme Court on Thursday.
“Our company has already moved the Supreme Court against the order of the Allahabad High Court. If the SC puts a stay order, then the toll will continue and if not, then we will soon come to a decision on the refund process. Till now, no decision has been taken on the refund of cards and chips,” said an NTBCL official, who did not want to be identified.
“We have filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Thursday. The decision of Allahabad high court is not justified, we have to challenge it in the apex court,” said RK Bhargav, chairman, NTBCL.
Since the Allahabad high court made the flyway toll-free, more than 150,000 vehicles passed the toll plaza, NTBCL officials claimed. However, they were unable to ascertain the specific number of two- and four-wheelers.
“From 5 pm on Wednesday till 10 am on Thursday, more than 1.5 lakh vehicles have crossed the plaza gates coming from Noida as well as Delhi side,” said Anwar Abbasi, DND spokesperson.
Prior to the waiver of toll, nearly the same number of vehicles would use the facility in a 24-hour period on weekdays.
No more toll
On Wednesday, a division bench of justices Arun Tandon and Sunita Agarwal of the Allahabad high court restrained NTBCL from collecting toll for using the DND flyway. The decision came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Association in 2012 challenging the toll.
The flyway that connects the national capital with Noida and East Delhi on the east bank of Yamuna and Delhi on the west bank is used by millions of commuters every day.
On Thursday morning, several commuters were seen queuing at the customer care centre to inquire about the refund process of silver card and RFID chip. However, much to their dismay, the toll plaza management company turned them down.
“I use this route every day to reach my office in Greater Noida. I got my RFID chip recharged last week only and I need to know how I can get the refund,” said Mahendra Singh, who is employed with a developer in Greater Noida.
The toll for one-way use of the flyway is Rs 28 for four-wheelers and Rs 12 for two-wheelers. There are two ways to pay toll without cash — Silver card and RFID, a tag-based system that reads tags from a distance and automatically deducts the toll.
Silver card can be purchased for Rs 445, which includes Rs 25 one-time payment and Rs 26 for each trip, giving a benefit of Rs 2 per trip.
For RFID tag, one has to pay Rs 4,000, which includes Rs 1,000 one-time payment and Rs 25 per trip, benefitting the commuter of Rs 3 per trip besides giving them a through passage. There are nearly 5,000 pass-holders.
According to an NTBCL official, the decision on refund of cards and chips will be taken in the next meeting.
The toll-free passage on the other hand has brought relief to commuters who no longer had to wait in long queues at the toll plaza.
Praveen Kumar, a resident of Ashram, New Delhi, said that he noticed smooth traffic unlike other weekdays in the past. “It was seamless drive on this beautiful stretch on Friday morning as I did not have to wait at the toll plaza. We learnt about toll free passage on TV news channels last evening. It is a great relief to commuters like us,” he said.
All the 32 toll booths were abandoned as there was not NTBCL staff to collect toll. The boom barriers were permanently lifted. There were no traffic cops and vehicular movement was smooth.
JK Singh of Sector 44 Noida said, “Why should we pay toll for such a long period for a facility which should have been made free long back. We appreciate Allahabad high court for bringing great relief to us and we expect the same from the Supreme Court.”
Traffic jams, however, were reported in early hours on both ends of the DND flyway.
“Around 8:30 am when I was on my way to Noida from Delhi, I got stuck in a traffic jam near Sarai Kale Khan. I guess many more commuters who got to know about the toll-free DND drive wanted to avail the benefit of the signal free stretch. I found heavy traffic jam on Noida side as well,” said Shalini Sood, a Delhi resident.
Confederation of NCR RWAs (Conrwa) members also surveyed the toll to interact with the commuters. “It is smooth vehicular movement between Noida and Delhi as all the commuters we spoke to were of the view that toll must be removed permanently,” said Chetan Sharma, secretary general, Conrwa.