After drawing flak for moving a draft cabinet note proposing a substantial increase in the toll tax on national highways, the road ministry has now taken a U-turn.
Apprehending that the move might backfire — with a dozen states going to polls over the next one year — the ministry has decided to revise the proposal.
The decision was taken following a meeting between road minister CP Joshi and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) chairman RP Singh in the last week of June.
Joshi, sources said, has directed officials to redraft the proposal based on realistic empirical data, actual cost of construction and maintenance. “We will have to see if a hike is justified or not,” said an official.
In the garb of attracting investment and generating revenue, the ministry had in February proposed a three-pronged approach to amend the National Highway Fee Rules 2008.
The ministry had proposed to increase toll on all highways, which are revised every year based on annual change in wholesale price index (WPI). Currently, the revision is based on 3% fixed rate and 40% of change in WPI.
Proposing to retain the fixed rate, the ministry wanted to hike the WPI to 70%. It wanted to charge 50% more toll on expressways . Besides, they also proposed to bring a majority of two-lane roads — not under toll— under toll regime.