Four-fold hike in airport road toll charge
A hefty, unprecedented four-fold increase in toll rate along airport road triggered tension and extreme chaos at the toll plaza near Devanahalli here late on Saturday night.
Caught unawares, taxi-drivers from the airport refused to move their vehicles as toll collection began at midnight.
Policemen watched from a distance as the chaos sparked a massive traffic jam on the busy road. Toll collection was even halted for a while as angry drivers shouted slogans.
Notified by the Navayuga Devanahalli Tollway Private Limited, the revised rates were okayed by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
Under the new rate system, car, jeep and van drivers will have to shell out Rs 75 one way, a big jump from the existing Rs 20. If they return within 24 hours, the revised toll is Rs 115.
For buses and trucks, the new rates are Rs 235 for one way and Rs 355 for a return trip. The earlier rate was only Rs 65. BMTC buses and taxis bound for Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) are expected to hike their fares, passing on their toll burden to the passengers.
The new rates will be applicable till March 31, 2015. Thereafter, the rates will be revised on April 1 of every year, based on the wholesale price index. Commuters bound for KIA on their personal vehicles will not be levied any toll. However, on the return trip, all personal and commercial vehicles from KIA will have to pay two-way toll. Those heading towards Hyderabad need to pay only one-way toll.
While NHAI top officials rejected the charge that the hike was exorbitant, the state government indicated its helplessness. When contacted, Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said the road belongs to the NHAI and it may not need the state government’s permission to hike the toll rate.
Navayuga has also introduced a Local User’s Monthly Pass system for non-commercial vehicles. This pass, issued for Rs 225 per calendar month at the toll plaza, could be used by all personal vehicle owners residing within a radius of 20 km from the plaza. However, this radius limit will rule out all commuters starting from Bangalore city. It is learnt that residents of 38 villages within a radius of 5 km could use the road for free.
Sources in the state PWD said the NHAI is free to decide on increasing toll rates. The state government would have signed the State Support Agreement for implementing the project, and once that is done, the NHAI can impose toll, said sources. But NHAI officials in New Delhi said the revised rates were approved as per agreement between the developer, NHAI and the Karnataka government. However the ministry will study the issue again.