CHENNAI: Within a few days after the Lok Sabha and Assembly by-elections were held in the State, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has begun to implement revised toll fee rules, withdrawing the concession for locally registered commercial vehicles in toll gates across the State. While the top officials of NHAI claimed that the revised rules came into effect from April 1, the toll plazas across the State started to collect the same from the user for local commercial vehicles for the past few days, which so far enjoyed the 50 per cent concession on the user fee. A vehicle registered within a 20 km radius from the location of toll gate, is considered ‘local vehicle’.
According to National Highways (Rate and Fee Rules) 1997, a local commercial vehicle is exempted 50 per cent of prescribed user fee of that category and the non-commercial vehicle is eligible for the monthly pass at discounted rates. However, the revised toll rate rules issued in 2008 ‘National Highways Fee (Determination of Rate and Collection) Rules 2008’ has allowed the concession at toll gates only for locally registered non-commercial vehicles and have not granted the user fee discount for commercial vehicles.
Followed by stiff opposition from various States, the Union government had decided to allow concession for both commercial and non-commercial vehicles as a temporary measure. “So far, locally registered vehicles of all categories were granted concession as per the provisions of gazette notifications issued in 1997 and 2008. But in October last year, the government had taken a policy decision to follow the NH 2008 rules which didn’t allow concession for locally registered commercial vehicles. Thus, the same came into effect from April 1 across India,” G Athipathi, Project Director, NHAI, Chennai, told Express.
According to official records, the State has 46 toll gates on national highways that run for about 6,741.5 km which includes 3496 km road maintained by NHAI. The move came as a rude shock for small traders and other shop owners who depend on the commercial vehicles for transporting goods and other materials.
S Shekar who owns a fruit shop near Sholavaram, said, “To transport about 200kg of fruit from the market and distribute to street vendors, we use a tempo van. Sometimes, we transport the empty vehicles also. So far, we only paid Rs 20 per trip. But, we were suddenly told to pay the full fare, which would increase our daily expenses,” added Shekar. Similarly, other local transport companies who registered their cabs and other commercial vehicles, were also shocked over the decision.
Tamil Nadu Lorry Owners Federation (TNLOF) President R Sukumar said those vehicles which are registered in Madhvaram, Red Hills and Ambattur areas will have to pay `400 to `500 for crossing 100 km. “This decision is unacceptable and NHAI should roll back the decision,” he demanded.
A vehicle registered within a 20 km radius from the location of toll gate, is local vehicle
As per National Highways (Rate and Fee Rules) 1997, a local commercial vehicle gets 50 per cent exemption in prescribed user fee of that category
Non-commercial vehicles are also eligible for monthly pass at discounted rates
However, National Highways Fee (Determination of Rate and Collection) Rules 2008 permit concession at toll gates only for locally registered non-commercial vehicles
Following stiff opposition from motorists, concession allowed for commercial vehicles
In October last year, the government took a policy decision to implement NH 2008 rules from April 1
Due to polls, the implementation of revised rules delayed
Motorists protested against the move and ransacked a toll gate in Red hills
Non-commercial vehicles monthly pass at NHAI toll gate costs Rs 255 to Rs 265