Year after launch, highway nests yet to take off

Year after launch, highway nests yet to take off

Highway Nest at Hoskote toll plaza near Bengaluru.

More than a year after their launch, highway nests that were supposed to offer food and beverages to commuters near toll plazas have failed to take off as the project is mired in confusion.

About 50 nests, housing small shops to offer food and beverages to commuters were supposed to come up at toll plazas. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials said about 35 nests and mini nests had been set up across the state but less than five were functional.

“The guidelines stipulate that the kiosks should be rented out to government agencies. We had offered it to Karnataka Milk Federation but till now, they have not been able to utilise the facilities,” a senior NHAI official said, adding that about Rs 10 lakh has been spent on constructing the kiosk.

KMF officials, however, said there was too much confusion over the kiosk. “The NHAI officials have to handover the kiosks entirely for us to operate freely. We have tried to tie up with NHAI but lack of clarity on how to run the kiosks and on issues like the products to be offered has stalled the process,” he said.

Sources in NHAI said the negotiations have been going on since mid-2018 and both sides may not be able to come to an agreement. “KMF officials have complained that concessionaires manning the toll plazas have tried to dictate terms and that some people were bringing political pressure to hire the kiosk,” he said.

Viewed as passenger amenities, highway nests promise affordable snacks and beverage on highways where wayside hotels charge high. The NHAI official said setting up kiosks in remote areas was a challenging task, as they had to provide electricity and utilities.

The NHAI had planned to set up basic amenities, including toilets, near toll plazas as part of efforts at enhancing passenger amenities.

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