The toll plaza on Gurgaon-Faridabad road regained its choke-point status on Friday as toll collection resumed. The line of vehicles stretched over 500 metres as toll collectors and commuters struggled to exchange loose change.
To minimise the woes of commuters after high denomination currency notes were scrapped, the Haryana government had notified toll exemption for all vehicles on Monday evening, giving commuters more than three days of free ride on the 25-km Gurgaon-Faridabad stretch.
Many commuters were unaware about the expiry of exemption. Some of them were also confused as the Centre extended toll exemption on national highways till December 2. However, Gurgaon-Faridabad, a state highway, does not fall under the purview of Centre’s exemption.
Vehicles started queuing up at the toll plaza around 9 am. Though the congestion eased towards noon, the situation worsened during the evening peak hours.
“There was absolute chaos at the toll plaza. The toll operators were exchanging notes with one another to overcome the shortage of change. Many commuters were giving the new ₹500 currency note or trying to find change in their vehicles or pockets,” a police official stationed at the toll booth said.
More than 40,000 people travel between the Gurgaon and Faridabad daily.
Cars are charged ₹20 per trip and ₹30 for a round trip. Heavy vehicles have to pay ₹60 for one way and ₹90 for a round trip. Commercial vehicles such as buses and taxis are charged ₹110 per trip and ₹165 for a round trip.
When the lines started getting longer, the concessionaire -- Reliance Infrastructure Ltd -- was forced to lift the boom barriers without collecting toll.
“I was unaware that they started collecting toll again. I only had a ₹2,000 note. The toll operator was kind enough to let me pass through on the condition that I’ll pay the sum on my next trip,” Ishaan Bhardwaj of Sector 48, Gurgaon, said.
Some commuters said the toll exemption should continue on state highways too.
“I used to reach my office in Sector 17, Gurgaon, in less than an hour during the exemption period. It took me nearly 90 minutes to do the same today (Friday). As the crisis is yet to stabilise, the state government should also suspend toll collection till December 2 and end our daily woes,” Jyotnsa Singh of Indraprastha colony, Faridabad, said.
During peak hours, snarls that stretch over 500 metres are a common feature on the road and it takes commuters 15 to 20 minutes to cross the toll plaza.
The concessionaire has been collecting toll at the point since July 2012 when the road was widened from two lanes to four.