High-level talks have failed to resolve the dispute over the steep hike in toll on the road leading to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA). Officials from the state government, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Navayuga Devanahalli Tollway Pvt Ltd, the company which collects the toll, met on Monday to discuss a reduction in the hike.
As the talks made no headway, the State government has decided to appeal to the Union government to implement the new 2014 toll policy for the airport road.
According to PWD Minister H C Mahadevappa, this would bring down the toll by `20 for a two-way trip to the airport. At present, the toll is being collected based on the 2008 toll policy.
The Navayuga company has attributed the hike to the cost of building the `220-crore elevated stretch of road as part of the expressway to the airport.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mahadevappa said the company has been collecting the toll based on the 2007-08 policy.
Toll rates would come down if the Union government directs the company to fix the toll based on the 2014 policy, he said. The new toll policy has no provision to charge a different rate for the elevated road.
Earlier in the day, Mahadevappa discussed the issue with Union Minister for Surface Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes at Kumara Krupa Guest House and urged him to direct the NHAI to follow the latest policy for the airport road.
He was confident of resolving in the next two to three days the problem, which has triggered massive protests from taxi operators and the public. “NHAI is an independent body. I have appealed to the Centre to direct the NHAI to implement the 2014 toll policy on NH 7 leading to Kempegowda International Airport,” he said.
The new policy would be implemented only for the NH leading to the KIA and not on other national highways in the state. The policy would be applicable only in the case of construction of elevated highways.
Mahadevappa said some of the conditions in the policy have not been fully implemented in the airport road project. The company has not built the service road, and the highway has not been fully developed as a signal-free corridor, he said.
The state has urged the Union government to provide compensation to the company if it incurs losses due to the construction of the elevated highway. Such a gesture can directly reduce the toll on the road, he said.
However, with the election code of conduct still in force and a new government set to come to power at the Centre in the next one week, there is no immediate relief for motorists.
Meanwhile, a delegation of pro-Kannada leaders, led by freedom fighter H S Doreswamy, met Mahadevappa and sought strong measures to reduce the hike.
They demanded that the government come out with a white paper explaining the method adopted to fix the high toll, the daily toll collection on this road, when the private company expected to break even and other details.
Doreswamy said, “People are assured of reasonable toll charges before taking up the projects. But such promises are being repeatedly broken after the project is completed. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had assured us to examine the issue of high toll rates on many highways in the state after the Lok Sabha elections. He should now fulfil his promise. The toll on the airport road is too high and it should be brought down.”