Congress demands rollback of toll tax hikehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/congress-demands-rollback-of-toll-tax-hike/

Congress demands rollback of toll tax hike

Congress also alleged that BJP’s ‘closeness’ with contractors would lead to a Rs 500-crore loss.

In the Standing Committee meeting of the South Municipal Corporation on Tuesday, the Congress demanded a rollback of the recent hike in toll tax and alleged that BJP’s “closeness” to certain contractors had resulted in loss of revenue for the civic body that ran into several hundred crores.

The contract to collect toll, allotted to the brother of a sitting BJP MP, ended on April16. However, he was given an extension till a new tender was released. Completion of fresh tenders could take between four and five months. In this period, the corporation could lose over Rs 500 crore in toll.

Pointing to the same, Congress’s Farhad Suri said even as a committee was constituted to revise the tender for toll collection in January, 2014, after a direction to hike the toll tax came from the Director, Local bodies, the BJP-led corporations had failed to release fresh tenders till date.

“Five months since the committee was constituted, there is no tender for collection of toll. Also, the contract of the previous contractor has been increased without the approval of the House or the Standing Committee,” Suri claimed and demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter.

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Suri quoted a survey conducted by Shri Ram Industrial Research Institute to point out that the annual collection for the three corporations against the reserve price proposed by them should be Rs 1,574 crore. And with the tax hike, the annual collection would increase to Rs 2,146 crore, he said.

Based on these figures, Suri claimed that along with the losses, increased toll would also lead to increased inflation in the national capital as all utilities are brought into the city by road.

The South corporation’s current toll collections from its 124 booths amounts to Rs 10 crore a month. The total yearly collection of all three Municipal Corporations of Delhi amounts to Rs 312 crore.

However, with the 36.4 per cent hike in toll tax, this share will go up to Rs 425 crore, with the South civic body’s share increasing by more than Rs 3 crore.

Admitting to the delay, BJP’s Subhash Arya said the term for the previous contractor was extended as the House and the Standing Committees could not meet due to elections. “The Congress is resorting to sensationalism. Yes, there is a delay in releasing contracts. But that has nothing to do with BJP’s relationship with the contractor,” Arya said.

Claiming that the process of announcing new tenders was being expedited, South Corporation Commissioner Manish Gupta said the delay was caused due to elections and the fact that Shri Ram Institute survey was being carried out for two months.