Oscar defends increase in toll

Oscar defends increase in toll

The toll on the National Highway leading to the Kempegowda International Airport has been hiked in accordance with the rules and there is nothing wrong in it, according to Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes.

Fernandes, who held a meeting with the ministry officials here on Monday, told Deccan Herald that the road had been built on public private partnership and the private developer had been allowed to charge the toll as per the agreement with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

The authority had approved the new user charge on April 24.

“The very reasons for high toll charge were that it was fixed based on National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008, which determines user fee, based on cost of the project,” said a senior official.

He said the six-lane, 22-km road comprises a 4.9-km elevated stretch, and the entire project entailed an expenditure of Rs 680 crore.

Considering all these factors, the user fee will certainly be high, the official said.

Before 2008, only the length of the road was taken into account while calculating the toll, irrespective of variable construction costs.

Though this rule was amended in 2010 and 2011, it was not applicable for the Hebbal-Devanahalli stretch of NH 7 as the MoU for this project was signed in April 2010.

However, the toll for the Airport Road will be revised on April 1  every year, based on the wholesale price index.

The project was entrusted to Navayuga Engineering Company Limited on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis.

The firm was allowed to collect toll for 20 years, including two years of construction period. It was the first project in the country with six-lane elevated corridor built on a single pillar.

As the construction was completed early this year, the NHAI notified the toll charges on April 24, based on an agreement signed in 2010, allowing the company to collect toll from May 1, 2014.

He said though the hike seems to be steep, it helps road users as travelling time from Hebbal to KIA airport has been reduced to 20 minutes from one hour.