The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has informed the Odisha government that it has incurred a loss of around Rs 400 crore due to non-payment of toll fees by private passenger buses in Odisha.
NHAI’s chairman Santosh Kumar Yadav recently drew the attention of the state chief secretary Pradeep Jena to the issue and sought his intervention to resolve it.
“You are aware that NHAI has taken up massive development work of national highways in Odisha. It has been entrusted with developing and maintaining 2,372 km of national highways, of which, the length of six-lane national highway is 372 km, four-lane is 1,465 km and two-lane is 536 km. At present, 23 projects of 755 km length of national highways are under construction at a total cost of Rs 16,795 crore,” Yadav’s letter read.
Yadav further wrote that a total eight NH projects in aggregate length of 639 km at a cost of Rs 22,745 crore are proposed to be awarded during the current financial year.
He said the investment requirement is a mammoth task and it cannot be met out of the available resources of the NHAI.
“After funding highway projects through public/private money, the NHAI or its developer recoups the investments by way of user charges or tolls charged from customers using the facility. However, it is of great concern that the stage carriageway buses do not pay toll fee on the NHAI toll plazas in Odisha, thereby, causing loss to the NHAI to the tune of more than Rs 400 crore,” the letter read.
He added that though the issue was brought to the notice of the transport department in various meetings, it is still stuck in limbo.
“I request your kind intervention to resolve the issue in a timely manner to avoid further loss of revenue to the NHAI and serious audit objections,” Yadav’s letter to the state chief secretary said.
Official sources said that a meeting was held between the NHAI and state transport department here on Wednesday following a directive from the office of the chief secretary where the issue was discussed, ‘but no concrete decision was made’.
“We hope the issue is resolved at the earliest,” NHAI’s general manager and regional officer (Odisha) Veerendra Singh told
The transport department said they would soon hold a meeting with the private bus operators.
A senior transport official said the private passenger bus operators have been paying a monthly toll fee of Rs 1,000 along the routes they take.
“We cannot bear the exorbitant toll fees in the wake of rising fuel prices. We were planning to collect the toll fees from passengers, but we dropped the plan. The conditions of national highways are bad on many routes, causing damage to vehicles and adding to the fuel cost,” a bus operator said.