Mahender Singh | Right to Information activist
The Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway is a commuters’ nightmare given the traffic snarls all along the stretch, especially near the toll plazas. What links the anti-toll protests is not only the discount on toll not offered to local traffic, but also the concessionaire firm’s lack of transparency and tendency to circumvent rules.
After filing various RTIs on the issue of toll collection and discount policy, I have come to know how the concessionaire, which was required to “formulate, publish and implement” an appropriate scheme for charging local traffic, has put in place a system that cheats them.
The concessionaire has adopted only one mode for discount and that is “SMART EXPRESS TAG CARD/CSC” for which it charged a non-refundable security deposit of Rs 1,500. It also stopped issuing these cards 5-6 months ago — ever since the high court directed it to issue them for free —- citing reasons of non-availability.
The model concession agreement for build-operate-transfer projects of Rs 100 crore and above, as published in the ministry of road transport and highways website, stipulates that local personal traffic fee shall be 25% of the applicable fees for that category of vehicles. But this clause has been altered in case of the expressway by fixing the fees at 50%, which is a clear violation.
So, I think the concession agreement should be terminated.
“The smart tags were to be used only on Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway and cannot be resold to any other project. All tags imported by us have been used only on this project and no resale has happened.
The amount being charged for tags is an administrative fee, whereas smart cards, which we are promoting now, are distributed free of cost. And, the split toll plazas have been working regulary, but the data has been integrated to the main toll plaza only since August, 2013.
Prior to that, the split toll plaza data was updated only after every 2-3 days which could lead to the bunching of the split toll plaza data.