The Tamil Nadu Road Development Company (TNRDC) has stopped collecting user fee from four toll plazas on the East Coast Road (ECR) from Mamallapuram to Puducherry. Toll collection was stopped since the midnight of Wednesday. This follows the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) taking over the 85-km stretch for widening.
Tolls at Hanumanthai near Puducherry, near Sadras (two of them) and one near Mamallapuram are no longer operational. These tolls used to collect close to ₹5 lakh a day, which amounted to around 50% of toll collected by the TNRDC on this road. Plazas at Uthandi and Kovalam will however remain.
“Since the road has been officially handed over to the NHAI, we have stopped collection. We had sought permission to collect toll till the time they complete work, which was turned down,” said an official in the Highways Department. The TNRDC had requested the NHAI to take the liability of Rs. 185 crore loan that it has to repay to banks. The amount was taken for improving the road. This is being sought as a special case since the road has been widened and is being handed over with so many assets,” the official added.
Sources in the NHAI said that the loan would have to be borne by the Tamil Nadu government. After the widening of the road, the NHAI will commence collection of user fee.
The ECR became a toll facility in March 2002 and was upgraded into a two-lane road from a small road winding through 154 villages. The 113-km long road runs from Akkarai to Puducherry and the stretch to Mamallapuram has been four-laned with a median. The road witnesses around 13,000 vehicles on the weekends and 10,000 on a daily basis.