Road, Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath has held out a New Year’s gift to Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the Legislative Assemblies (MLAs), while excluding the “aam aadmi” from his generosity.
MPs and MLAs have again been exempted from paying toll tax at national highways, while toll tax has been imposed for vehicles plying double-lane roads — which constitute 53 percent of the total length of the highways in the country.
Recommending changes to the National Highway (NH) Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008, the ministry has pitched in with category-wise toll structure for the basic or two-lane roads, that run through towns and cities.
For two-lane roads with investments between Rs.1 and Rs.2.5 crore per kilometer, toll rates proposed are 30 percent of the maximum toll applicable on four-laned roads. For roads with investments between Rs.2.5 to Rs.3.5 crore per kilometer, proposed rates are 50 percent of the maximum applicable on four laned roads.
After the framing of the National Highways fee rules in 2008, the new toll structure was made applicable in March 2009 – withdrawing MPs/MLAs from the exempted category. The new rules – superceding the fee structure framed in 1997 — had imposed toll structure for two-laned roads at the rate of 60 per cent of the maximum toll applicable on four-laned roads. Previous to 2008, toll had not been applicable on two-laned roads.
Following stiff political opposition to the new toll rules, the ministry had agreed for a review. The re-drafted toll policy was forwarded as a cabinet note to the Prime Minister’s Office lately, a ministry official said on conditions of anonymity.
The draft toll policy has now been forwarded to the Pranab Mukherjee-headed Empowered Group of Ministers (EGM) for its approval.
Single and double-laned roads constitute 74 per cent of the total NH length of 71,000 kms. Toll levy accounts for revenue generation of Rs.2, 000 crores annually.