The arbitrary attitude of the toll barrier contractors in charging the toll fee in the state is burning a hole in the pockets of vehicle owners who cross these barriers daily.
With no check by the authorities, contractors have been charging almost 30% more than the stipulated rate, which the hapless commuters have to shell out.
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has not increased the toll barrier rates. The official under whose jurisdiction the rates are revised periodically has expressed his ignorance over the matter saying there was no increase in rates as of now and they were in the process of increasing them in September.
Parminder Mehta, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee secretary, said, “There is no check on the tax charged at the toll plazas. There is no official announcement by the government or the NHAI about increasing the toll tax rates, but the contractors have been cheating thousands of vehicle owners daily.”
Mehta said, “Considering their increasing number, the government says it would remove most of the toll plazas, but nothing has been done. On the other hand, contractors are busy fleecing people. Despite crores of rupees being generated through toll plazas, most major road projects in the state are lying pending for years.”
Vipin Sharma, general manager and project director, NHAI, based at Ambala, while expressing ignorance about any hike or overcharging at the toll plazas, said, “We have not hiked the toll barrier rayes. The next hike is likely in September. We adhere to the formula by the NHAI while effecting an increase in the rates.”
While Prabhpreet Singh, a daily commuter to Jalandhar, said, “Some time back, I was paying Rs 150 for a return ticket, but now I have to pay Rs 180. It becomes really difficult when you have to travel to and fro on a daily basis.”
On the National Highway-1 in the state, there are five toll plazas -- Ladhowal (Phillaur), Mukerian, Damtal, Attari border and Bhogpur.