Don’t allow the private contractor to collect toll tax between Wadi and Gondkhairi on the Nagpur-Mumbai National Highway until the roads are completed as specified in the tender document, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court told the state government on Tuesday.
Responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by lawyer GC Singh, justice Vijay Daga and justice Arun Coudhary restrained the private contractor to collect toll until the roads are certified by the chief engineer of the public works department (PWD) as complete, as per the conditions mentioned in the contract.
The petitioner claimed that according to the build, operate and transfer (BOT) arrangement, the contractor had already set up a toll collection point though the road between Wadi and Gondkhairi is under construction at various places. Singh attached several photographs of the road to the petition to support his contention.
The interim directive is considered to have statewide impact.
Earlier, the state cabinet had decided to pull up errant contractors for recovering toll without adequate maintenance of roads entrusted to them on BOT basis.
Social activist Anna Hazare too had raised the issue and had forced the state government to re-look at the toll tax collection policy.
Hazare had insisted for a transparent policy for collection of road toll and had even threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike.
Earlier, state home minister RR Patil had said that private operators would be barred from collecting toll if they failed to maintain the roads as per the terms and conditions laid down in the tender documents.
With the high court ordering a stay on the recovery of toll tax on incomplete roads certified by the PWD chief engineer, the state government, PWD and other agencies have been made accountable about the quality of roads and toll charged.
The division bench clarified that even if incomplete roads are certified as complete, those certificates will be subject to reconsideration, if any such case is brought to the court’s notice.