The Supreme Court refused to stay Allahabad High Court’s order making Delhi Noida Direct (DND) flyway toll-free. Additionally, the court appointed an auditor to examine the accounts of the toll company to ascertain its cost and profit.
In the last week of October, the high court had scrapped the toll levied on customers on the DND flyway, that connects south-east Delhi with Noida across the Yamuna river. The Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd (NTBCL) — the special purpose vehicle promoted by project sponsor IL&FS to develop, construct, operate and maintain DND – had filed a petition before the top court against the high court order, but it has failed now. The Supreme Court had told the company that it had not ‘built a road to the moon.’
The Allahabad High Court order had come on a public interest petition filed by a body of Noida residents. A Bench of Justice Arun Tandon and Justice Sunita Agrawal considered several aspects of the case before ruling that NTBCL had “recovered all reasonable returns” on its investment, and was no longer entitled to collect toll. There were frequent complaints that the toll – Rs 28 on cars – was unreasonable and too high.
As per the company’s accounts, it should have been able to collect Rs 2,339.6 crore in 2012, Rs 3,448.9 crore in 2014, and over Rs 5,000 crore in 2016. The Supreme Court Bench had earlier observed that the “total cost of Project can never be recovered and the bridge will never be free from levy of Toll”, if the formula for calculation was allowed to continue.