Cabinet okays toll collection on 10 State highways

The State Cabinet on Thursday gave its nod for collection of toll on 10 State highways, covering a total distance of 1,191 km.

Disclosing this to reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri said the 10 roads will be handed over to private companies on Operate, Maintain and Transfer (OMT) basis for 10 years.

“The concessionaire will maintain these roads by utilising money collected through toll from the road users.

“PWD is yet to fix the concessionaires. It will take seven to eight months,” he stated.
These roads are: Kalmala-Shiggaon, Srirangapatna-Jewargi, Sankeshwar-Sangam, Aurad-Sadashivagad, Raichur-Bachi, Srirangapatna-Jewargi (another stretch), Bagalkot-Biligirirangana Betta, Basavakalyana-Raichur, Sindhagi-Kondagal, Mysore-Bantwal.

Roads under KSHIP-1

These are the roads developed under Karnataka State Highway Improvement Project (KSHIP-1). Before starting toll collection, the concessionaire has to black-top the road, besides taking up necessary upgrading works. The State government, on an average, requires about Rs 1,700 crore per year to maintain about 1,000 km of road. Under OMT, the concessionaires not only maintain the roads, but also share a portion of toll money with the government, the minister said.

Agreement with WB

As per the agreement with the World Bank, which has funded KSHIP-1, the State government has to collect toll from the road users to mobilise resources for their maintenance. About 2,385 km of State highways have been upgraded under KSHIP-1.
Though the government had brought necessary amendments to the Karnataka State Highways Act, enabling it to impose toll about a year ago, it had not taken the initiative to collect toll.

On toll rates, Kageri said, the PWD would work out details based on the State toll policy. Certain categories of vehicles like tractors and two-wheelers will be exempted from toll, he added.

Regularisation of services

The Cabinet decided to regularise the services of about 23,000 daily wage employees, apparently with an eye on the next Assembly elections.

“A draft legislation has been prepared in this regard. The Cabinet empowered the chief minister to finalise the bill and place it before the legislature. It will be done at the earliest,” Kageri said.

As per the draft bill, all daily wage employees who are serving in various government departments and boards and corporations since 1984 or those who have completed minimum 10 years of service, as on April 2006, will be eligible for regularisation, the minister said. He, however, did not clarify whether the bill would be placed before the legislature in the coming winter session or not.

The Cabinet also decided to extend pension benefits to 1,593 employees working in various zilla panchayats.

Framework for land denotification

After facing the wrath of the Supreme Court and the State High Court in various instances of denotification of land in recent months, the Cabinet set up a committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary to prepare a broad framework for denotification of lands, Kageri said.

The committee will go through the existing guidelines and norms under Article 48(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and prepare a framework.

The aim is to ensure that there is clarity in the process of land denotification, which has landed many political leaders in deep trouble.

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