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NICE reduces road toll on State Government’s request

Staff Reporter

The new rates will come into effect from January 1, 2009



NICE to introduce passes with discount to

regular commuters

New toll for two-wheelers will be 75 paise a km



Bangalore: The Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) on Tuesday rolled back its contentious toll rates in the range of 16 to 33 per cent.

The reduction depends on the category of vehicles using the peripheral and link roads built as part of the controversial Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) Project. The new rates will be effective from January 1, 2009.

Announcing this at a press conference in Bangalore, NICE Managing Director Ashok Kheny said the decision was not forced by the public outcry, but was on the State Government’s request.

‘No free ride’

While making it clear that it was not possible to allow a free ride for two-wheelers, Mr. Kheny said the new toll for them would be 75 paise a kilometre.

He claimed the toll collected by the National Highways Authority of India was based on a slab where motorists had to pay a minimum toll irrespective of the distance, unlike on the BMIC Road where they would have to pay only for the distance they travelled.

“The company will introduce monthly and weekly passes in which discounts will be extended to regular commuters,” Mr. Kheny said, but however rejected the demand for free passes for those who had lost their land to the project.

‘A hurdle’

Mr. Kheny alleged that “Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D. Deve Gowda and his children were proving to be hurdles in the development of the State owing to their “personal and political interests”.

Terming Mr. Gowda’s description that BMIC was the “biggest fraud” in recent years, involving Rs. 30,000 crore,

Mr. Kheny challenged Mr. Gowda to buy all the lands notified for the project at Rs.10,000 crore from NICE and sell them at Rs. 20,000 crore if possible.

He also made it clear that he would not bow to pressure from anyone.

Mr. Kheny also alleged that the Government had stopped the transfer of land to the project under pressure from former Public Works Minister H.D. Revanna, Mr. Gowda’s son, which came in the way of payment of compensation to land losers.

‘Money deposited’

“NICE has deposited the money for land acquisition with the Government, and it is due to corruption and political pressure that the compensation is not being disbursed among eligible land owners,” he said.

Unfulfilled promise

On his promise to give one developed site per acre of land voluntarily surrendered for the project, Mr. Kheny said he was unable to fulfil it as the Government was not handing over the land for the project.

Reacting to a report in The Hindu, he claimed that the company had initially planned to concrete the road, but on technical advice from the Government, it had opted to asphalt it first and wait for the road to settle before concreting it.

“We agreed to the Government’s advice although it will cost us more,” he added.

Proposals

Mr. Kheny said that his proposals — to build service lanes on either side of the tolled road for free passage of slow-moving vehicles, and permission to build a mono or metro rail on the median of the existing toll road — were pending before the Government.

“The two projects will benefit the people,” he said, while alleging that a top Urban Development Department official was coming in the way of its sanction.

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