The comptroller and auditor general (CAG) has pointed out that toll worth Rs 29.31 crore was collected illegally on five Haryana highways in 2014.
In its recent audit report on public sector undertakings for 2014-15 tabled in the assembly on Monday, the CAG pointed out that the company managing toll booths on the Gurgaon-Sohana road, Sohana-Nuh-Ferozepur-Zhirkha-Alwar road, UP border-Sonepat Gohana road, Sardulgarh-Sirsa road and Namaul-Singhana road continued to charge vehicles between March 2014 and December 2014 although these state highways had been declared national highways.
This was in violation of Section 3 of the Haryana Mechanical Vehicles (Levy of Tolls) Act, 1996, which states that no toll shall be levied on any mechanical vehicle crossing or using any toll facility once any state highway is declared a national highway.
“As per the Indian constitution, national highways are covered under the union list and making law on the subject matter is exclusive prerogative of the Parliament,” says the CAG report.
On the five state highways developed by the company, it was collecting toll at five toll points on its own or through contractors. The period of validity of these five contracts ranged between April 2014 and February 2016. Terms and conditions of the contracts provided that the company could terminate their contracts any time without assigning any reason, after issuing 15 days of notice to them.
The ministry of road transport and highways declared these five state highways as national highway on March 4, 2014, but the toll continued to be charged till December 25, 2014.
The management, in June 2015, stated that collection of toll on notified toll points could not be closed without concurrence of the finance department and approval of the council of ministers. The notification for closure of toll points was issued on December 10, 2014, after the proposal to close these toll points was approved on November 25, 2014, by the council, following which the booths were closed on December 26, 2014.
“The reply was not convincing as the company did not immediately initiate the process of seeking approval of the government to close the collection of toll once it came to know of the declaration of state highways as national highways in March 2014. The late initiation of process of seeking approval for termination of toll resulted in late decision-making, and the imposition and collection of toll from March 2014 to December 2014 was an unnecessary burden on the users,” states the CAG report.