Toll agency may challenge green tax

October 14, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:35 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The Supreme Court’s order on Monday on levying an environment compensation charge on commercial vehicles entering Delhi may be challenged by the toll tax contractor who has been asked to collect it and set up infrastructure.

From November 1, commercial vehicles will be charged between Rs.700 and Rs.1,300 every time they enter the Capital and the amount collected will be used by the Delhi Government on projects to decongest the city and reduce pollution.

While the plan has been welcomed by activists and government officials, the municipal corporations, responsible for toll tax collection at the 127 entry points in Delhi, were unsure on how it would be possible.

The Supreme Court order stated: “The charge will be collected by the toll operators without any deduction and handed over to the Delhi Government on every Friday.”

Toll collectors, it added, would install a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system at “their own cost” at the nine main entry points by November 30 and by January 31, 2016, at the remaining points, “failing which the contractors will be treated as being in breach of their obligation”.

Officials of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation -- the lead corporation drawing up the toll tax contract -- said the concessionaire, SMYR Consortium, may file a review as the cost incurred on the collection and the RFID system would be an extra burden.

“As per our contract, there is no provision for additional services and infrastructure. So the contractor could file a review. But, since the SDMC was not issued any orders, we will not be filing any review,” said SDMC Mayor Subhash Arya.

A senior SDMC official said the concessionaire would have to employ more staff and set up a system for collecting the additional money, which would add to the Rs.541-crore annual contract.

However, others were hopeful that the order would have a positive impact on Delhi’s poor air quality. Bhure Lal, the chairperson of the Environment Pollution Control Authority, which will monitor implementation of the order, said he “welcomed the decision”.

“Now, we will have to monitor the Delhi Government plans on using that money,” he said.

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