• Toll on six-lane highways only after construction

    After burning its fingers by allowing developers to collect user fee (toll) during construction of 6-lane highways such as Gurgaon-Jaipur and Panipat-Jalandhar for years, the government will now abandon this practice in all new projects that will be rolled out. Tolling will start only after construction is complete.

    Corroborating this, NHAI chairman Raghav Chandra said, “I had raised this issue with the Planning Commission and submitted our views to the present government. If tolling starts from day one of construction, commuters suffer and there is no suitable incentive for developers to complete the work fast.”

    “The government has agreed to carry out six-laning under hybrid annuity mode. This means tolling will start only after construction is complete.”

    The move will not affect the projects that have already been awarded. According to the National Highway Authority of India, there are 23 ongoing contracts for six-laning of highways.

    Sources said that all new six-laning projects will be built under the hybrid annuity model.

    “Since in this model the user fee comes to NHAI as it pays back the entire investment of private investor in installments, it will be easy to do away with tolling during construction,” a government official said.

    Chandra said about 2,756 km are scheduled to be expanded from four lanes to six lanes and the hybrid annuity model will ensure responsible and speedy delivery. NHAI officials said that the six-laning projects constituet a large share of the delayed contracts.

    There had been several protests by commuters against toll hikes on Gurgaon-Jaipur, Faridabad-Agra and other such stretches complaining against poor facility and road diversions, forcing the UPA government to approve a policy allowing developers to charge only 75 per cent toll during six laning work.

    The Cabinet decision of October 2013 had also provisioned that tolling can be suspended for failure of developers to meet the deadline. Jalen Mills Authentic Jersey

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