User fee takes a heavy toll on Punjab motorists

Published: 03rd June 2013 09:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd June 2013 09:43 AM   |  A+A-

Now if one were to take the 257 km-long stretch from Delhi to Chandigarh along the NH 1, a none-too-small amount of Rs 154 has to be paid as toll charges. Similarly, a motorist travelling to Amritsar from Delhi along the same route will have to shell out Rs 218 for using the 455 km-long stretch. Meanwhile, the smart tag facility which was to be started on this highway by Union Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways is yet to see the light of the day.

From Delhi to Amritsar, the toll is to be paid at five places -- Panipat, Tarawari, Shambhu, Beas and Manawala. However, the ministry’s ambitious ‘electronic toll collection’ (ETC) system plan on National Highway 1 continues to remain on paper. Due to the numerous roadblocks owing to the ongoing construction along the highway, the driving experience is hardly smooth for the motorists and people have to drive through the slip roads to get to Punjab from Delhi. For the 235 km from Chandigarh to Amritsar, one has to pay a toll of Rs 133, from Chandigarh to Hoshiarpur for 135 km one pays Rs 57 and from Chandigarh to Delhi for 250 km one pays Rs 154 (all one way). Even though the total distance from Amritsar to Jalandhar is only around 80 km, there are two toll booths on this stretch.

The growing number of toll booths is now becoming an irritant for the commuters, who are already paying the VAT on vehicles, road tax and cess on fuel. “We pay so many taxes at the time of vehicle registration and after that we are expected to pay the toll tax as well. Why this double taxation?” says Shalinder Walia, a daily commuter.

People in Punjab will now have to cough up more money as 16 new toll barriers will soon come up in the state on the new roads in the coming days.  The state already has around 15 toll barriers and 13 out of the 15 roads, which already have toll barriers, have been built at an estimated cost of over Rs 622 crore. As per the rules, a toll barrier can be at a distance of less than 60 km.

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