Read the news about not having to pay toll charges if you have to wait at the booth area for over 3 minutes? Don't rejoice!
Read the news about not having to pay toll charges if you have to wait at the booth area for over 3 minutes? Don’t rejoice! The National Highways Authority of India has issued a clarification stating that no such rule allowing exemption from paying toll charges because of time taken exists. The clarification, shared with FE Online states, “there is no specific exemption applicable relating to either time taken or distance of queuing of vehicles at Plaza, as part of transaction. As such, it is clarified that there is no provision of exemption to User Fee in case time taken for crossing the plaza is more than 3 minutes”.
“Ministry of Road Transport and Highways vide National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Amendment Rules 2010 dated 03.12.2010 has notified the list of vehicles exempted from payment of User Fee,” says NHAI adding that that there is no specific exemption for time taken. The clarification has now been hosted on the NHAI website as well. The need for clarification arose after an RTI applicant in a Facebook post shared that there is a provision to not pay toll charges if the waiting time is over three minutes.
Here is the NHAI clarification:
Hariom Jindal, reportedly an advocate from Ludhiana, had asked the NHAI in his RTI that if the “total waiting time including the time spent in the queue surpases 30 seconds, which means delay and harassment suffered by the computers, what are the provisions for compensation to be paid by your office to the commuter?” (sic). The reply on the RTI application dated August 29, 2016 says, “There is a total waiting time of 3 minutes, if the 3 minutes exceeds in waiting, then there is a provision to pass the vehicle free of cost.”
Below is the Facebook post of Hariom Jindal:
One would then be forced to assume that the RTI was replied to erroneously by the NHAI. The situation gets even more embarrassing, as some reports have quoted former NHAI officials as saying that even the clause to allow people to pass without paying toll charges exists, it is difficult to implement owing to the long queues and traffic. A report in TOI quoted Y Rajeev Reddy, former chief general manager of NHAI-Karnataka as saying, “As per NHAI rules, we should not collect toll from a vehicle which has been waiting in queue at a toll plaza for more than three minutes”. Reddy goes on to tell TOI that in cities such as Bengaluru, there is not enough land to have additional toll booths at toll plazas. This results in queues of over 3 minutes, Reddy has reportedly said.
RTI is supposed to be one of the most trusted sources of information for citizens and these apparent flip-flops by the NHAI are bound to leave everyone confused.