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Plan panel, ministry divided over toll policy

Animesh Singh  |  New Delhi 

Differences between the Planning Commission and the road transport and highways ministry over the draft toll policy have delayed its finalisation.
The ministry was supposed to send the policy for Cabinet clearance by February end. However, issues pertaining to logistics and costing have been delaying the policy's clearance, though senior ministry officials claim that all differences have been sorted out.
The Planning Commission, on the other hand, says the ministry is yet to resolve the contentious issues.
The Planning Commission wants toll for bridges should be fixed on the basis of their length. However, the ministry says since the construction cost of each bridge is different, the toll should be fixed on the basis on the structure's construction cost.
Similarly, the Planning Commission wants the concession on toll be given to local commuters using national highways only if there is no alternative route available for them. Ministry officials, however, say it is difficult to find out alternative routes for various highways across the country.
Sources say there was a suggestion by the Commission that toll should be higher during peak hours but ministry officials say this is possible only in cities, on highways the concept of peak hours does not apply.
The Prime Minister's Committee on Infrastructure had formed a Committee of Secretaries (CoS)to work out the policy in October 2005.
However, after several deliberations between the CoS and ministry, the draft toll policy was prepared early this year but the Plan panel is still not pleased with the draft.
The ministry on its part, claims that the contentious issues have been settled and the policy would soon be sent for Cabinet's approval.
Sources that in this tug of war, it would be interesting to see the real shape of the policy, once it is finalised.

First Published: Fri, July 20 2007. 00:00 IST