Mumbai

‘Big gap in projected, actual collections at toll nakas’

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IIM-C study says private toll operators have engaged ‘amateur’ service providers

A study of toll nakas at major thoroughfares in the State by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta has revealed a massive gap in projected and actual toll collections.

The burgeoning gap raises serious questions on the quality of roads being built and maintained, and execution of PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects.

Projects terminated

The study was conducted on select major PPP projects, including highways in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Amravati. A financial assessment, gap analysis and an inventory survey were conducted apart from interviews of private players and the State government staff. Since 1996, Maharashtra has terminated 65 PPP projects with an investment worth ₹77,000 crore. The State along with Chhattisgarh and Gujarat are the top three States to terminate the maximum PPP projects undertaken on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis.

Overall, it was found there was a 40% to 50% gap between projection and present collections in the six projects studied. The inventory survey revealed the toll managers and employees were not aware of the key features of the agreement with the government. “It is concluded no one is aware of the proposal and key features of the agreement with the State government and do not know scope of the work and what is to be done,” said the study, assigned by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics.

Lax: The inventory survey revealed that toll managers and employees were not aware of the key features of the pact with the government. (Above) A view of Mulund toll naka.

Lax: The inventory survey revealed that toll managers and employees were not aware of the key features of the pact with the government. (Above) A view of Mulund toll naka.   | Photo Credit: Rajesh Gupta

The study covered big toll nakas on the Sion Panvel Road, Malkapur-Buldhana-Chikli Road, Ahmednagar-Aurangabad Highway, Nanded-Naresee Highway, Anjura Fata Highway, Maankoli Highway, and Chandrapur-Vamni Road. The study found toll operators “did not cheat in road length but the pave of most shoulders” were in poor condition. “Some of the tolls had failed because the toll charges remained heavy, and insufficient traffic resulting from the efforts to recover costs,” the report has said. Senior officials said toll and work on these roads were awarded in 2011 but the renewal work has not been completed. “Though the paved condition is not to international standards, with the exception of a few pockets, the general condition is fairly good. We are confident about it,” said a senior official of the State Public Works Department.

Serious concerns

The study found that in most places the private toll operators have engaged “amateur” service providers for the purpose of maintenance. “The study provides an analysis and evaluation of the current and prospective profitability and other financial attributes of the PPP projects. The report finds prospects of the work done in its current status is not positive and some major areas of weakness require further intervention action by the government.”

The study has raised questions on the government’s preparedness for preventing road fatalities. According to the Road Accidents in India 2017 report prepared by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, four cities — Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur — feature in the top 50. In Mumbai, 3,160 accidents occurred in 2017, of which 467 were fatal and 2,603 caused injury. A total of 490 people died in these accidents while as many as 3,287 were injured.

‘Big gap in projected, actual collections at toll nakas’

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 1:27:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/big-gap-in-projected-actual-collections-at-toll-nakas/article25875642.ece

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