The government will scrap 125 toll plazas in the country and thereby spare the public from levy at highways by February-end, union minister for road transport, highways and shipping, Nitin Gadkari, has said.
This, he said, will also help improve conditions of roads in the country for swifter and safer movement of vehicles, adding that in the next three years, trucks on roads will be able to cover up to 600 km per day.
Gadkari was addressing the inaugural session of the fifth edition of Indian Supply Chain Logistics Summit in New Delhi on Thursday.
He said toll collection at some 65 road projects have already stopped and the government has decided to make projects toll-free where less than Rs50-crore investment has been made.
He said the ministry officials are identifying projects where the cost has been recovered or about to be recovered and also where the collection of toll has become unviable.
"A total of 74 such tolls have been identified, of which 61 have been shut," said Gadkari, Additionally, public-private partnership (PPP) projects with investment of less than Rs 100 crore are being identified where toll collections can be closed off. Ways are being explored to shut all such toll plazas after factoring in the requisite contractual obligations, he added.
The electronic toll (e-toll) collection system introduced in the country will help save Rs88,000 crore and cut waiting time at toll plazas significantly, Gadkari said, quoting a Transport Corporation of India & IIM-Kolkata study.
According to the study, "Rs60,000 crore was lost on account of various delays at check posts and electronic toll collection (ETC) could save Rs88,000 crore."
The minister said of the 350 toll points on the Mumbai-Delhi route, 140 have been converted into e-toll points. By completion of the e-toll work in the country, Rs88,000 crore would be saved.
For implementing ETC across the country, a new company, Indian Highways Management Company Limited, has been constituted. It has equity participation from National Highways Authority of India (25 per cent), concessionaires (50 per cent) and financial institutions (25 per cent).
Gadkari has for long been stressing the need to move to e-tolling systems, developing cement-concrete roads and promoting the use of alternative fuels such as bio-diesel.
The minister said the government is brining changes in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and a bill in this regard with several innovative steps will be introduced in the next session of the Parliament.
The minister said e-toll introduced at toll gates in the country will help in reducing the waiting time of vehicles which presently costs 2-3 per cent of GDP. He said the Government is planning construction of truck terminals and truck clubs with facilities such as dhabas, rest rooms, toilets etc.
Gadkari called upon industry leaders present at the summit to invest in the development of waterways in the country as transportation on water is much cheaper compared to rail and road. He also underlined use of alternative fuels such as ethanol, bio-diesel, bio-gas and bio-CNG for reducing pollution and saving money spent on importing oil.