Which road to take?
Over the past two decades, financing of road projects in India has undergone several changes. For the government, public-private partnership (PPP) has become the preferred route for construction of roads. The National Highways Development Programme (NHDP), the largest road programme in history, envisages the bulk of investment to come from the private sector.
A predominant feature of private financing is collection of toll. In India, toll rates are calculated taking into account the base toll rate and the wholesale price index and are indexed to the estimated project cost in the case of high cost structures.
Road users have to pay tolls in addition to paying a fuel cess and vehicle charges; yet they do not receive the desired level of service quality. Roads have been constructed in patches, leaving little impact on long journeys. In addition, a new plan has been finalised by the government proposing a levy of user charges on road users to enable efficient operation & maintenance of roads, till perpetuity.
Road users are now faced with multiple charge burdens without much improvement in the quality of road or a reduction in travel time. Motorists face delays extending up to several hours, congestion and long stoppages at most toll plazas.
According to a study by IIM Kolkata and Transport Corporation of India, delays at toll booths cause losses of around Rs 870 billion a year while toll collections amounted Rs 43.64 billion in 2009-10. A vehicle on an average takes around
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