NEW DELHI: Toll charges may come down or go up but collection of the levy will never end, Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said in Lok Sabha on Tuesday while adding that his ministry has set a four-month deadline for 100% tolling by Fastag or other digital mode to make travel hassle free at toll plazas.
“Toll zindagi bhar band nahi ho sakta, kam zyaada ho sakta hai …Toll ka janamdata mein hoon …I can speak good or bad about me, I am the originator of toll in India and for this I am criticised,” the minister said on a lighter note while responding to discussion on demands for grants related to his ministry after opposition members raised concern on toll being collected on NHs.
He added, “Collect user charge from those who can pay. We don’t collect toll charge from poor and those who use the rural roads where we are spending to build roads as well.”
Though Gadkari said that people have the right to get good roads when they are paying toll and he has instructed agencies to penalise erring contractors, NHAI has a poor record of slashing or suspending toll. “I have told them that they must build good roads if they want to collect toll. This is not acceptable that you will collect toll and also won’t fix potholes,” he said.
Gadkari said the government was doing a balancing act by not collecting the user fee in most of the northeastern states and also from two-wheeler, three-wheeler and tractor drivers. “We collect toll from four-wheelers, trailers, buses and trucks,” he said, adding that collecting the user charge is also necessary to fund road projects in far flung areas of northeast and other parts of the country .
He assured the members that his department is looking at considering toll exemptions to school buses and state transport buses. Gadkari said once the mandatory Fastag use kicks in vehicles without such tags won’t be allowed to cross toll plazas .
The minister also cited steps that his ministry has taken to attract investment and claimed more than once ” paise ki koi kami nahin hai (there is no dearth of money)” .