The next time you lose your way or suffer a car breakdown on a toll highway, don't panic. You can contact the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) which is duty-bound to come to the rescue of motorists on toll roads, a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed.
It's not just route patrol services that you can use. A tow-away crane, ambulance and fire tender too have to be provided by the agency that collects toll from motorists in need, the query revealed.
The RTI application was filed by Vedpal, a resident of south Delhi, after he was charged illegally by the NHAI authorities for getting his vehicle removed from the toll road after an accident.
Vedpal was asked to pay Rs 1,500 to get his vehicle towed away after an accident while returning to Delhi from Jaipur.
"It was 2 am when I met with an accident. I called the NHAI authorities for help. They asked me to pay Rs 1,500 and when I refused they said they won't help me," Vedpal told IANS. "I was forced to pay the amount," he said, adding he had no option.
The incident took place in June this year when Vedpal was driving along with his friend Jitendra from Jaipur.
"Our car had an accident with a truck. Immediately, I called up one of my friends who gave me the number of the NHAI authorities. The people claiming to be NHAI officials reached within some time and demanded money to provide help," said Vedpal.
He, thereafter, filed an RTI application asking the NHAI about the services provided by them to motorists and the charges for these. He was surprised by their reply received July 13 which said all the services - providing assistance at the nearest point - were free for commuters travelling on national highways under toll.
He also got to know that if there is any deficiency in service, the action of the company that has the contract to maintain a particular highway and provide services to motorists is considered a breach of contract.
The Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch of the 208-km toll highway is maintained by the Dubai-based firm Emirates Trading Agency LLC in collaboration with the Indian firm KMC Construction Limited.
Vedpal specifically asked through his application whether the facilities provided by the licensee on behalf of the NHAI like crane service and car breakdown service are chargeable at market or subsidized rates.
The NHAI in its reply clearly mentioned that all these services were free of cost. The RTI query also revealed that the licensee company also had to provide services like toilet blocks, drinking water and bus bays on the highway.
The NHAI also denied that there was any rate card fixed on toll roads for providing such services.
Now Vedpal is planning to file a complaint with the NHAI demanding termination of the contract of the company which charged him for tow-away service, violating the NHAI's contract terms.