Toll plazas against rules in AP to be shut: Gadkari
Deccan Chronicle.| AVINASH P SUBRAMANYAM
At least six to seven toll plazas established unscientifically in violation of National Highways Fee Rules 2008 across Andhra Pradesh
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (PTI Photo)
TIRUPATI: At least six to seven toll plazas established unscientifically in violation of National Highways Fee Rules 2008 across Andhra Pradesh state may be closed over the next three months.
Union minister for highways Nitin Gadkari pointed out in Lok Sabha that the minimum distance between two toll plazas must be 60 km. All plazas established in violation of this rule will be shut, he stated.
Significantly, following repeated protests across the country, the centre had in December 2018 ordered National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to shift toll plazas located within 60 km of one another.
However, the authority did not take any action against such toll plazas set up under National Highway Fee Rules 2008 on grounds of project viability.
For example, Chennai-Kolkata National Highway (NH) 16, which runs along the east coast of India through states of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, has total length of 1,764 km. It covers a distance of 1,024.12 km within Andhra Pradesh, starting from Ichapuram and terminating near Tada. The first toll plaza is near Bellupadu in Srikakulam district and last near Sullurpeta in Nellore district. There are 16 toll gates along this highway in AP. The total toll fee a four-wheeler pays to cross all these toll gates is 1,100.
As per available official data, distance between Madapam and Chilakapalem toll gate is 30.4 km. The next toll gate at Nathavalasa on NH-16 is located 40 km from Chilakapalem toll gate. These are followed by Kalaparru and Pottipadu toll gates. They are within 22.8 km of each other. Distance between Pottipadu and Kaza toll plazas is 47 km. Other tolls operating on NH-16 in violation of rules include Venkatachalam (old Nellore) to Budanam (40.8 km) and Budanam to Sullurpeta (38.7 km).
Similarly, there are two toll gates – Keesara and Chillakallu located at a distance of 32.4 km on Vijayawada-Hyderabad Expressway along NH-65. Between Hyderabad and Tirupati, there are two toll gates – Nannur and Pullur, which are located at a distance of 23.1 km on national highways 40, 44 and 340C. Further, there are two toll gates, one at Gadanki and other at Mahasamudram in Chittoor district, which are located within a distance of 50 km along Tirupati-Bengaluru highway.
When contacted, a regional NHAI officer, who does not wish to be identified, said "As of now, we have not received any intimation on closure of toll plazas within 60 km of each other on national highways. We will act in this regard only after getting directives from the ministry."
The union minister’s announcement to shut down toll plazas within 60 km of each other has been welcomed by many commuters. "We have to pay 190 of toll every day to commute between Nellore and Chennai, that too on one way. We appreciate that the centre has understood the burden it is imposing on us. If one of the three toll gates between Venkatachalam and Sullurpeta closes down, it will save us 90 per trip," said P. Dilip Kumar, a Nellore-based businessman.
According to the NHAI officials, one toll plaza between Unguturu and Eethakota was identified within 60 kilometres of distance. The distance between two plazas is 56 kilometres, while the next toll plaza from Eethakota to Krishnavaram is at a distance of more than 125 kilometres. The officials are exercising whether the toll plaza can be merged with another toll plaza. The NHAI Project Director of Rajamahendravaram Mr. Surendra Nath said that the exercise is being done and the data of distance and others is being gathered and sent to the higher authorities.
- Longest highway passing through AP: Kolkata-Chennai National Highway 16
- Distance: 1,024.12 km
- Toll plazas: 16
- Approximate toll fee: 1,100 (4-wheelers)
- Toll gates within 60 km on NH 16: 9 (approx.)
- Toll fee for nine: 485(approx.)