State's highways most complaint-prone

State's highways most complaint-prone

Grouses pertain to service, quality of roads; disruptions in toll collection

Karnataka has the dubious distinction of being the State with the highest number of complaints to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in the last three years about the quality of service and roads provided by agencies which have bagged contracts under the public-private partnership (PPP) model to upgrade the highways.

This is borne out by a report prepared by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. From bad condition of roads to poor maintenance of amenities like toilets, and misbehaviour by employees to shortage of coins (change), Karnataka leads in the number of complaints filed against the private and public agencies maintaining the highways. The State is followed by Maharashtra.

In the past three years, four roads were laid siege to by locals over tolling policies. In 2010, Karnataka had reported that there was disruption in the collection of toll at two locations – at the Bagepalli toll plaza where NHAI had embarked on four-laning of the road along the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border, and at the Electronics City toll plaza during the construction of the expressway between Central Silk Board and Hosur.

The reason being there was no exemption for local vehicle users who need to exit the expressway to get to their homes along the stretch.

The Central Silk Board flyover was again in the news in 2011 when there was disruption at the Attibele toll plaza for the same purpose of exempting local vehicles from paying the hefty levy. Sources in NHAI said the Karnataka government finally exempted the locals from paying the toll.

“Now, the concessionaire for the project has taken the State government to court for causing severe losses and not abiding by the agreement signed between NHAI, the concessionaire and the State government,” said the official.

The row over the tolling of the Devanahalli expressway has also been recorded by the Centre’s report. There was large-scale disruption of the toll collection in April 2011.

Sources in NHAI said the prime reason, across the nation, for the ‘complaints’ is toll.
“We cannot do without the toll and people do not want to pay it. It will take some time for people to realise the need to pay the toll for maintaining roads in the country,” said the official.