Toll has been slashed by a third of the revised price introduced two days ago for motor vehicles frequently plying on the National Highway 7 to the international airport near here, Minister for Public Works Department H.C. Mahadevappa has said.
Briefing presspersons on Tuesday after a meeting with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials, apart from those representing the contractor engaged by NHAI, the Minister said NHAI had agreed to offer the concession to vehicles that operated more than 50 trips a month on the stretch.
The Minister said that he had appealed for a concession also to vehicles making 25 trips in 15 days and NHAI was considering the proposal.
“The hike is within the framework of the national toll policy and it is Parliament that has to reconsider the hike. Rolling it back is not within our reach. However, I have appealed to the Union government and NHAI to consider offering more relief to the public,” he said.
He said that residents of villages located in a 20-kilometre radius of the toll road would be allowed to use the road if they pay Rs. 225 a month. “They can use any vehicle for this fee provided that vehicle is their own,” he said.
Urging the agitators to withdraw their protest, the Minister said the State government is helpless. “At a meeting in Delhi with Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes and NHAI officials on Monday we studied if there was any provision to offer concessions to road users. Today’s decision is in accordance with the provisions of the policy,” he said.
Defending the hike, A.K. Mathur, NHAI Chief General Manager, said the increase was warranted by the Rs. 220 crore spent on building the elevated expressway from Hebbal to Kogilu Cross beyond Yelahanka en route the international airport, which was commissioned recently.
Federation of Karnataka Lorry Owners and Agents Association president G.R. Shanmugappa told The Hindu that transporters would not agree to the “settlement” announced by the government. The federation’s demand for service roads, concessional passes for local users, reduction in toll, etc., remains unfulfilled, he said.