Nitin Gadkari is among the best and a performer but we need fresh ideas and structural changes to address the problems
In a previous post we have tried to highlight the menace on Indian roads and tolls somewhat harshly after witnessing the scenario first hand. (https://www.facebook.com/samanvayain/posts/1817566651817139).
We all know that hon’ble minister Nitin Gadkari is a performer, likes fresh ideas , does not likes hurdles and delivers. (http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/ashamed-at-nine-month-wait-for-approval-for-automated-parking-lot-says-nitin-gadkari-2792580/).
He is trying his best to build roads and infrastructure in the country. In fact we have written a post on the same some time back. There are also plans for the toll collection using RFID technology and some others. (http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report-nhai-rolls-out-cashless-payment-mechanism-for-non-stop-vehicle-movement-2204254).
Western countries have also been doing work on toll collection as no one likes to be stopped on the roads to pay a toll surrounded by goons. A very good research paper worth reading is given here . (http://ctr.utexas.edu/wp-content/uploads/pubs/0_5217_P1.pdf).
However owing to the large and poor population of the country it is also necessary to review the problems and issues with another angle i.e from the perspective of common man. Moreover it is wrong to say that a person who can afford to drive a car on the highways cannot afford to shell out tolls. The question is not about paying tolls , but how much toll and how many tolls. Further the waiting time at each of these tolls with long queues amid hordes of trucks and few buses and tractors.
We feel that for whatever reasons, the Indian toll agreements are skewed and are done for the benefit of the concessioner. The predicted number of vehicles were small when the toll rate and time was fixed.
Since India has developed with very large number of auto-vehicles have been added every year. The toll collectors recover the money they have spend in building roads in half the time. rest of the time it is loot and harassment of citizen. The case of Gurugram toll plaza and DND is case in question. Recently the Allahabad HIgh court removed the DND toll which was also a nuisance like the Gurugram ( Gurgaon toll) until few years back and when the supreme courts came to the rescue. (http://www.livelaw.in/allahabad-high-court-scraps-dnd-toll/).
The step to be taken is to correct the first agreement where the traffic predictions are done right. The second is to see the road quality promised and made. Making roads in time is important but most important is the quality of road so that on a new road every year major maintenance are not done. There must be some period before the maintenance begin.
Every the growth of traffic on toll need to be study by independent groups and the impact of it need to be factored in. This will reduce the toll instead of increasing by the year.
As we all know one cannot switch off the vehicle while waiting on the tolls as they move inch by inch at times but continuously. Thus very important question is the time taken on tolls and associated expensive fuel that is being burnt and wasted by millions of vehicles while waiting plus the less said of the ensuing pollution.
The whole issue can be solved with some fresh ideas and solutions. We feel that owing to the large population of the country and increasing number of vehicles there is no need for toll booths. Every country requires solution that fits its own culture and issues.
1. The government can place a fresh levy only on diesel vehicles which can be used to maintain and build roads and infrastructure.
2.One time charges can be levied at the time of all vehicle purchases which should go in a specially created infra fund for roads construction and maintenance.
3. All tolls need to be automated in one go. We are aware that certain tools at certain places are being automated. However that solves the waiting issue and not the toll fee.
4. The government has to share the load of the toll fee and rationalise it with an annual committee. There can be a review committee under Niti Aaayoga which can fix the tolls on the roads. Tolls should not be greater than Rs 20 which can be paid by any traveller readily and happily.
5. There should not be tolls below 200 kms of travel.
In fact there are ‘N’ number of solutions that can be proposed and put to practice provided the government and the ministry has the will power to take a note of that and implement in the larger interest of the people and citizens. Besides Technology is changing fast and offers many solutions.
The point is change in mindset. Let us keep the general public first rather than builders and developers in mind. Let us consider the population and leverage it with growing economy and increasing vehicles. If we are able to take all these into consideration there is no way Toll can be operated the way they are at present.
Acche Din cannot be on paper and a rhetoric election slogan. The public and the masses must feel it. Jan Dhan Yojana was one such scheme which the people realised. Free gas connections was also a good scheme. Swacch Bharat is also making people conscious. The government can easily make Acche Din for its citizens a reality , and also making sure it can win elections in UP, elsewhere and also in 2019 Loksabha. Abolishing Toll with some good alternative can be a big idea which will be felt across the nation.
Hope the hon’ble PM and hon’ble minister Sh Gadkari ji will take a note of it.0