The residents of Gurgaon and the regular commuters of Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway now have a fresh reason to demand the removal of the toll plazas after the authority’s apparent lack of interest in getting the expressway’s financial reports audited properly came to light.
With figures showing that the collection at the two toll plazas on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway is approximately Rs 60 lakh per day, various sections of the society slammed the lackadaisical attitude and lopsidedness of the concessionaire and the concerned authorities. They accused the stakeholders of embezzling the “public money” which they collect from taxpayers daily.
“There must be timely review of all government projects and the highway here should have been periodically looked after by the government bodies, ministers and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials. However, it was left to a private company and there was no monitoring by any authority. If government bodies also remain unconcerned about where people’s money is going, who can be trusted?” said Attar Singh Sandhu, general secretary, Toll Hatao Sangharsh Samiti.
The toll collected at the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway in Gurgaon amounts to about `18 crore every month. However, according to people, they receive very little in return in terms of services and utilities like good road infrastructure, smooth traffic flow, pedestrian facilities and provisions for intra-city movement.
“The NHAI has done a shoddy job and we are paying to the concessionaire without getting anything in return; the stretch between Rajiv Chowk and Kherki Daula is the worst. It is a punishment for Gurgaon residents as we pay twice within the city limits while those on the Delhi side have been exempted from this toll. The authorities are completely insensitive to our needs,” said MM Bhalla, vice-chairman of Joint Action Forum of Residents’ Associations (Jafra) and a resident of Sector 23.
A parliamentary committee, based on the CAG report, had stated that though it was not mandatory for the NHAI to appoint independent auditors for checking the utilisation of funds, the principles of good governance have not been followed in this case. It had also said that the authority had not given any reason for delayed appointment of the independent auditors.