Sunday, December 28, 2008

NICE over, state to get huge toll road network

NICE over, state to get huge toll road network

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toll body In a few days the state government will roll out a new policy that will spell out the methodol- ogy for arriving at toll rates. A separate body will also be formed which will issue licens- es to collect toll charges, regulate and monitor toll collection and charges.
If you were blown away by the toll rates announced by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) for using its roads, get ready to brace for more such announcements in the coming days. The state government is planning 10,000 km of tolled roads across the state that will burn a hole in your pocket.

Karnataka, clearly unequal to the task of providing for the capital city’s infrastructure is giving itself the uphill task of constructing over 40,000 km of road networks in the next five to 10 years. The cashstrapped government, grappling with resource mobilisation for this development is looking at public private partnership (PPP) to meet the gap.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, principal secretary, public works department, R.B. Agwane revealed that with no choice, the government is forced to involve private infrastructure companies to build roads in the state.

“Around 40,000 km in the state are single lane roads. On an average we need around Rs 2 crore to con vert them into two-lane roads as we will have to acquire land in some cases, rebuild culverts or expand bridges. This amounts to Rs 80,000 crore which is out of the state’s reach. So we are in the process of identifying 10,000 km which will be developed with the help of private players,” he said.

Initially the PWD will take up 1,000 km.

In stages the rest of 9,000 km will be identified and global tenders will be floated in all the cases.

“We need to assess the traffic volumes on all the roads. Once we have the data we will collate it and wherever the traffic density is high, such roads will be given out on build-operatetransfer mode for a period of 30 years. The reason is only high density roads will yield good revenue for the investor,” Mr Agwane said. The toll authority to be announced this coming week will address the grievances of both commuters and private companies. Principal Secretary of Public Works Department, R. B. Agwane said that a 1998 amendment to the Highways Act allows the government to impose user fees or toll to recover money invested on roads.

“We have worked on a policy which will enable KRDCL or any entrusted private company authorized by the state government to collect the user fees. Till now the government has taken up works of several intercity roads through Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) which was dependent on grants, aids and loans. It is not possible for the corporation anymore to go loans. So this policy will help generate funds and also lighten the burden on the exchequer. The policy is pending cabinet approval,’’ he said.

The policy outlines guidelines for deciding on the toll charges.

The toll will vary for different roads and toll rates will be decided on the length of the road, investment, traffic volumes and such other factors.

Meanwhile, the elevated road from Silk Board Junction to Electronic City which is fast nearing completion has announced toll charges for commuters of this road.

The announcement which has come from Bangalore Elevated Toll Way Limited, the consortium which is constructing the elevated road is a shocker as the rates are double compared to that of NICE roads.

While two-wheelers and cars will feel the heat as they have to fork out out Rs 10 and Rs 25 respectively, truckers and buses will be hit the most as they have to cough up Rs 50 for the 9 km premier road.

The road which was predominantly built for the workforce of Electronic City who had to face traffic snarls of upto 3 hours, mainly due to inter-state vehicles which use the same road to enter Karnataka and leave for Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The rates are designed in such a way that truckers and buses opt out of elevated road and use free road below the tolled road. The 4-lane road will be thrown open for public in April.


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