AS movement of heavy vehicles towards Delhi begins every night, the Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) Flyway witnesses trucks and commercial vehicles blocking at least three lanes, and other vehicles are moved to one. A makeshift wooden booth, set up about 500 metres from the abandoned toll plaza, is at the centre of the traffic problem, commuters and officials said.
Traffic snarls on DND began a year ago after the Allahabad High Court passed an order stating that the concessionaire, NTBCL, was no longer entitled to charge toll since it had “recovered all reasonable returns”. After the order, toll booths at the DND plaza were emptied, toll operators lost their jobs, and the SDMC set up a temporary booth to collect other taxes.
“Commuting on DND during peak hours has become a nightmare. Trucks are parked on the side of the highway. Moreover, the booth has been put up at a narrow spot, which leads to traffic. It is a shame that Delhi-NCR does not have a proper toll plaza, and tax is being collected at a wooden desk,” said Nishant Prakash, an HR professional in Noida Sector 62.
The concessionaire, which has been given the contract for collecting MCD toll and environment compensation charge (ECC), said the matter was raised with the SDMC four days ago. “We have written to the South MCD commissioner, asking him to ensure that toll collection takes place at the existing toll plaza. It has been pointed out that the present set up leads to traffic congestion, especially during peak hours,” said Uttam Pawar from MEP Infrastructure private limited, which was given the contract from October 1 this year.
However, a senior SDMC official said, “The matter has not been brought before me. We will take necessary action once it comes before us.”
Officials maintained that prior to the Allahabad HC order, 13.5 per cent of the toll collected used to be given to NTBCL and they had dedicated lanes for collection of this money from heavy vehicles. “Following this, several meetings took place with officials from SDMC, Noida Authority, police and the administration. Concerns have been raised about the using the toll plaza in light of the court order,” said a Noida Authority official.
Meanwhile, the Gautam Buddh Nagar District Magistrate raised the matter with the Noida authority. Dated September 29, a letter from the DM’s office asked Noida authority to permit collection of MCD toll tax and environment compensation charges at the DND toll plaza.
“Concerns about the jurisdiction of the area where toll should be collected had been raised. It was said that tax cannot be collected at the toll plaza because it does not fall in Delhi. But for the last 15 years, toll was being collected from the same plaza,” said BN Singh, Gautam Buddha Nagar DM. — With Abhinav Rajput