Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways CP Joshi has stressed on the need to migrate to electronic toll collection (ETC) and it should be done by March next year. As complaints against toll payments mount, pressure is rising on the government to hold highway developers responsible for providing basic service-level agreements, he added.
What if tomorrow a set of users get together and file a class action suit demanding to know and get the exact service for the toll that they pay while using highways, said Vinayak Chatterjee, CMD, Feedback Infrastructure Services, at a panel discussion in Delhi on March 5. Class action suit is not yet permitted in India, but a Bill to allow the same is pending in the Parliament.
In this context, Joshi wants to roll out ETC across highways by March next year. ETC allows users to pay tolls through tags on their vehicles. To reduce waiting time at highway toll plazas, NHAI has formed a company called Indian Highways Management Company (IHMCL), which will implement ETC across national highways.
JN Singh, Member-Finance, National Highways Authority of India said that IHMCL is owned by NHAI, concessionaires, and financial institutions. All major developers including L&T, GMR, IRB have small stakes in the company. He is also the Chairman of IHMCL.
Gajendra Haldea, Advisor to the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, said there may be case for highway developers to pay back users if the waiting time increases.
However, there is no clarity on whether the contract defines the exact waiting time for highway users.