Toll collection will continue and any exemption relating to toll taxed on national highways has been ruled out. Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that people should be willing to pay if they want good services. The minister said toll collection can "never go" if funds are to be raised for constructing roads under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model. "The toll (collection) will never go. The toll will be there. If you want good services, you will have to pay for it," Gadkari said at a function of the PTI employees unions on Tuesday night.
Expressing concern over the rising instances of road accidents, he said his ministry is working towards ensuring safe travel on the highways. As many as 1.46 lakh people had lost their lives in 4.60 lakh road accidents across the country in 2017, he said.
The demand for toll waiver has been a long-standing one with NGOs and Opposition parties like the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena pushing the case.
Back in January, Gadkari had mentioned that the government wouldn't promise to waive toll tax. He cited examples of successful highways that save time and are safer.
He said there was a time when it used to take nine hours to travel from Pune to Mumbai and commuters had to face traffic snarls, but now the same distance is covered in two hours.
"Toll collection is common across the world, but I agree that it has to be stopped. But at this juncture, I cannot promise exemption from toll collection," he said.
The road and highways ministry seeks to build 83,677 km of highways over the next five years at a cost of about Rs 7 lakh crore. The National Highways Authority of India has set up a special cell to attract domestic and global investments to finance the mega road building programme.
"Good roads save on fuel and time and give life a security. If you want good services, you will have to pay for it."