The ministry in its communication to NHAI referred to the highway authority’s letter which had highlighted that “user fee collection contributes to the government exchequer and also provides financial strength to NHAI in terms of budgetary support.”
The NHAI will issue a detailed SOP so that the toll operators can put the system in place for operation.
The reasons behind resuming toll collection include the home ministry’s relaxation to “allow a lot of activities with effect from April 20 including commercial and private establishments” and allowing construction with certain riders.
Some of the toll operators told TOI that there has to be more clarity including how to deal with cash transactions, which is a matter of huge health concern during the current crisis.
“The government must also come out with a guideline to allow the workforce to reach the toll plazas, otherwise how can these be operated? We are staring at a crisis as there will be very little traffic on highways for the next few weeks,” asked a toll operator.
Earlier in 2016, toll collection was suspended across NH network for 23 days post the demonetisation.
Last week Union minister Nitin Gadkari had said NHAI would soon find a solution to the revenue loss due to suspension of toll collection. The concession agreement empowers the NHAI to compensate toll operators for such losses by extending the contract period.
Opposing the resumption of tolling, AIMTC chief Kultaran Singh Atwal said, “When the government is calling the truckers as heroes during this crisis who are risking their lives to ensure there is enough availability of essential supply, why couldn’t it postpone this for a few more weeks? How much toll revenue will come when you have barely 10-15% of the vehicles on highways? Toll payments are about 20% cost of our operation. This will hit us the most who are not getting return cargo.”