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Toll policy may be finalised by Jan 15

Mamuni Das

Currently, toll is increased every year by indexing it 100 per cent to the WPI; the new model concession agreement suggests a 40 per cent indexing.

New Delhi , Dec. 19

THE road toll policy is likely to be finalised by January 15.

The Committee of Secretaries set up to work out the policy, headed by the Secretary (Expenditure), Ministry of Finance, has formed a sub-committee to decide on certain issues.

"The sub-committee would submit its findings soon," Mr L. K. Joshi, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, told Business Line.

The toll policy will decide on such issues as whether the toll charges should be same for all roads or if they should be based on the cost of road stretches in build, operate and transfer (BOT) projects of national highways.

"In BOT projects, if a certain road has several high cost structures like bridges, should there be a higher toll to ensure project viability for the concessionaire or should it be given from the Government's kitty," said Mr Joshi, who is a member of the sub-committee.

Currently, toll is increased every year by indexing it 100 per cent to the WPI. The new model concession agreement suggests a 40 per cent indexing. "Forty per cent rate could render several projects unviable for the concessionaire. At what rate should the indexation be done," he asked. "Are the existing rates at the desired level?"

Moreover, there has been a recent decision to build 20,000-km two-lane highways with paved shoulders. "Should they be tolled?" Another issue is whether three-wheelers should be tolled. "Usually three-wheelers don't ply as much as other vehicles on the highways. Thus, they are exempted. But should they be included is an issue," said Mr Joshi.

The committee also needs to take call on whether tractors plying for commercial purpose should be tolled. Tractors could be used for agricultural as well as other commercial purposes. Should tractors be tolled based on the nature and end use of goods being carried or should tractors be exempted, is a moot point.

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