Noida authority officials feel that NTBCL's bid to increase DND Flyway toll tax to recover losses is not a good idea.
"The latest traffic volume report shows the number of vehicles using the expressway has come down by 3.5%. If commuters are forced to shell out more, the number will go down even further," a senior official said.
It's the development authority that has to make up for the losses incurred by the Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd. This is done in accordance with a concession agreement between the two.
So what's the way out?
"NTBCL has to cut down on its expenses. Some of them are extraordinary. A lot can be done in terms of reducing salary, TA/DA and legal expenses. Also, the salary hike was not at all justifiable," another official said.
Promoted by Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) to develop construct, operate and maintain the DND Flyway, NTBCL has spent crores of rupees.
"The agreement is flawed. In PPP (public private partnership) model years ago, there was a sense of desperation to rope in private players. Most of them got unlimited expenditure rights. The burden is actually passed on to the general public," an official said.
Though Noida authority chief executive officer Mohinder Singh is a nominee director in NTBCL board of directors, he does not have much say. "Despite the CEO's protest, NTBCL recently distributed dividends among shareholders without clearing debts," he added.
However, NTBCL chief Harish Mathur begged to differ.
"These are small issues. We have been trying to reduce expenses and optimise our resources. It's a continuous process. We have to see to it that DND continues to be the best connecting facility without putting much pressure on commuters."
He added that the latest NTBCL report says the company has made profits and it has to be attributed to reduction in expenses.
"We're not here only to make profits. The government is also involved. Managing one lakh vehicles a day without any chaos is not a joke," Mathur said. He termed allegations of "extraordinary expenses" mere apprehensions "without even an iota of truth in them".
"It's incorrect that Noida authority does not have much say. The appointment of an independent engineer, an independent auditor besides operation and maintenance staff is done with the consent of the authority," a senior NTBCL official said.
Noida authority has made it clear that if NTBCL is serious about any hike, it must first get a survey done by a reputed agency and convince the development authority officials.