Much to the relief of the commuters who were paying the toll at the Mattanchery BOT bridge for the last 13 years, the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) is going ahead with its plan to stop the toll collection before 2014, when the toll period ends.
The GCDA officials said the State Government had already extended its support to the recommendation on the Authority’s proposal for a settlement with the builders of the bridge, Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd.
“In the recent meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the builders has asked for a compensation of Rs 67 crore for stopping the toll collection. The basis of their calculation is that they need an annual compensation of around Rs 1.5 crore for a period of 20 years and expected revenue loss for six years and interest on the total 13 year toll period. However, we have already informed them that we cannot agree for a settlement for that amount. We hope that the builders will be ready for a settlement for a lower amount,” said GCDA chairman N Venugopal.
The GCDA authorities, after calculating various factors, have come up with a ‘compromise’ figure on compensatory amount. According to the Agency, the builder can settle for a compensatory amount of Rs 31 crore, instead of the Rs 67 crore that they are demanding. According to GCDA authorities, Gammon had already garnered nearly Rs 42 crore as toll till February 2013. When the toll collection began in 2000, there was no multiple toll collection and the vehicles will have to pay separate toll for entry and return through the bridge. Later, in 2001, the system was changed into multiple toll following the strong protest from the public, especially the bus operators who were forced to pay toll for each trip through the bridge. The builders claimed that they were incurring huge loss after the system was changed into multiple toll.
In 2005, the then UDF Government gave sanction to Gammon for extending the toll period till 2020, by adding six years to the actual toll period which was supposed to end by 2014.
During the tenure of LDF Government, which followed cancelled the extension of the toll period and issued a order that the toll collection would be end up by 2014.
Following this, Gammon approached the Kerala High Court, and the Court appointed an arbitration panel to settle the issue. The dispute is yet to be settled through arbitration.