Public and political parties oppose Union government’s decision
The Centre’s decision to start toll collection for the Kollam bypass has sparked a row with the public and political parties opposing the move.
Public Works Minister G.Sudhakaran has informed Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari that the State government does not want to impose toll for the amount Kerala had spent on the project.
The total cost of the project is ₹352 crore, of which the Centre had spent ₹176 crore on 50:50 cost-sharing basis.
The bypass connecting Mevaram and Kavand was thrown open for traffic on April 19, 2019 and the 13-km stretch touches three important National Highways — NH 66, NH 183, and NH 744.
The letter from the Union Minister says that as per Cl 3.4 of the Financial Participation Agreement signed between the two governments on January 17, 2014, the State government shall levy and collect the toll fee at full rates applicable at the point of time and remit the entire fee collected to the Central government until full realisation of the investment incurred by the Centre.
The letter directs the State government to levy and collect toll at the rate equal to 40% of the full toll fee applicable at the point of time and remit the entire 40% of the toll fee collected to the Centre to take care of maintenance expenses.
“The gazette notification for collection of toll fee was published on September 15, 2020. Hence, the toll will be levied strictly in accordance with the financial participation agreement,” it says.
Kollam MP N.K. Premchandran has requested the Centre to withdraw the decision. “The procedures of the standalone project to widen the Kollam National Highway bypass into four lane are progressing. Imposing toll for the partially completed project cannot be justified. Due to traffic congestion, the bypass is more used by local residents than long-distance commuters and the decision will cause great inconvenience to them,” he says.
The MP points out that since the project was completed without any private sector participation there is no need to start toll collection at the point. “This will be an unbearable burden for commoners and the toll collection should be stopped,” he says.
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