Come Thursday, commuters on the 27.7-km Gurgaon expressway can look forward to a breezier ride and even zoom right past the toll plaza at the Delhi border.
In a long-awaited decision, the Delhi high court on Wednesday approved an agreement scrapping the 32-lane toll plaza at Sirhaul — and with it, the traffic chaos has become an intrinsic part of it.
HT had relentlessly written in support of removing the toll plaza and highlighted motorists’ misery in a 50-day campaign.
However, motorists will have to pay a heftier fee at the next toll gate at Kherki Daula — which leads to Manesar and Jaipur and sees around 50,000 vehicles daily — with the ministry of road transport and highways notifying revised rates soon after the court verdict. The new rate is `56, double the current `27. The rate at the IGI toll plaza has also been hiked to `17 from `14.
The settlement agreement resolved a two-year-long dispute between the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), project financier IDFC and toll operator Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd (DGSCL).
The operator’s inability to prevent mile-long traffic snarls at the toll plaza had invited a termination notice from NHAI in February 2012. In September that year, the Punjab and Haryana high court had also barred it from collecting toll for 15 days and thereafter, from collecting during peak hours for a further 15-day period.
According to the agreement, based on a May 2013 NHAI proposal, DGSCL can now exit the project free of all obligations. In turn, IDFC would substitute DGSCL with a special purpose vehicle that would take over the liabilities and obligations relating to NHAI and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
TIDFC has already engaged Portuguese firm Feedback Brisa as the new operator of the expressway.
With the Sirhaul toll plaza now history, people who fought for its removal also want the Kherki Daula gate done away with — a view endorsed by senior Haryana government bureaucrats.
Also, the high court will on Thursday hear the South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s plea to allow it to retain the toll infrastructure at Sirhaul.