Commuting on highways is becoming more challenging with toll plazas adding to the burden of heavy vehicle registration taxes.
In addition, the toll on the state highways is higher than those on the national highway plazas.
For a round trip (356 km) on the state highway, a commuter from Chandigarh to Dasuya pays Rs 531. As a comparison, commuters can expect to pay around Rs 500 for a round-trip from Chandigarh to Amritsar (460 km). It costs about Rs 550 to travel four hundred and ninety kilometers from Chandigarh to Delhi. State toll road section Balachaur- Garhshankar- Hoshiarpur- Dasuya costs Rs 273 for two-way travel (216 km).
In toll plazas operated by the state, the minimum distance between two barriers is 20 kilometers, whereas on national highways it is 60 kilometers.
There are 49 toll plazas on state and national highways in Punjab, earning around Rs 4.30 crore daily on average. There are 32 toll plazas operated by the NHAI, which generates around Rs 3.50 crore per day. 13 toll plazas along the national highway are currently closed by farm unions. Approximately 80 lakh is earned by 17 state plazas on an average each year.
A road tax is already collected on the purchase of new vehicles, and the Central Road Infrastructure Fund (CRIF) collects tolls and fuel taxes. Despite our demands, toll rates continue to increase,” said Mandeep Singh of Malout.
Although the government collects tolls, periodic maintenance is not carried out.
Traffic Adviser Navdeep Asija said the state’s toll plazas were lacking in numerous ways.
A state toll encompasses road widening and maintenance as opposed to the large infrastructure projects of the NH. Toll fees in the state are higher than in NH. Toll operators are responsible for ensuring commuter safety on some toll roads,” he said.
Harpreet Singh, an activist based in Sangrur, believes the income projections were manipulated by bringing down a certain number of vehicles. There was a lack of robust regulatory mechanisms at the PWD. National highway tolls have been proposed to be abolished. NHAI’s toll revenues account for around 10-15% of its budget. In our opinion, the government should increase fuel cess instead of imposing tolls. A NHAI official said that consumers will not be burdened by this.
The NHAI has been allocated Rs 1,34,015 crore for the fiscal year. Transfers from the CRIF, which is levied on fuel, cover a large portion of the ministry’s expenditures.