Most VIPs will continue to enjoy toll-free travel in their cars, but only some of them may be exempted from paying road toll for their cavalcade which normally comprises a retinue of vehicles carrying bodyguards, bureaucrats and supporters.
The Nitin Gadkari-led road transport ministry has moved a cabinet note proposing that while the existing list of dignitaries exempted from toll continue to enjoy the privilege, the number of VIPs whose entire entourage does not have to pay, be drastically curtailed.
A ministry panel recommended in 2013 that vehicles of only five categories of VIPs get the privilege after frequent requests seeking exemption on one pretext or another.
It was felt the exemptions were becoming a nuisance, besides resulting in revenue loss. But the ministry has rejected the recommendation, apprehending it might upset too many of the powers that be.
Under current rules, 25 categories of VIPs including the president, prime minister, vice-president, governors, the chief justice of India, cabinet ministers, chief ministers, Supreme Court and high court judges, MPs and secretary-rank officers do not have to pay toll, nor do those travelling in their entourage.
The cabinet note proposes to amend the existing toll rules allowing only eight categories of VIPs and their entourage to enjoy toll exemption. The list will include the president, prime minister, vice-president, governor, chief justice of India, speaker, cabinet ministers and chief ministers.
In the remaining 17 categories, while the dignitary’s vehicle would be exempted, others accompanying him will have to pay. This will include Union ministers of state, MPs, lieutenant governors, foreign dignitaries on a state visit, Supreme Court and high court judges and MLAs, among others.